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Urban Heat Mapping

The Cities of Charles Sturt, Port Adelaide Enfield and West Torrens, in partnership with the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board have undertaken urban heat mapping for the Western Adelaide Region. 

The project was initiated as part of the AdaptWest in Action program, being the implementation of the Western Adelaide Region Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2016) which seeks to ensure our communities can continue to thrive in a changing climate.

The project which includes heat (thermal) mapping and the Western Adelaide Urban Heat Island Mapping Project - Report 2017(13911 kb) identifies where heat builds up across the region during hot weather.  It also provides insight into how urban design, green infrastructure and different materials may affect temperatures at the local scale.

What is an Urban Heat Island? - acc

What is an Urban Heat Island?

The urban environment is characterised by built structures, activities and materials which have replaced natural surfaces.  Artificial surfaces such as roads, footpaths and buildings store and accumulate heat which can affect temperatures at the local scale.  These surfaces are also impervious, meaning less moisture is available to assist with cooling through evapotranspiration.  This leads to an increase in minimum and maximum temperatures of a city compared with surrounding or less developed areas and is known as the ‘urban heat island’ effect.

For the purposes of this project, heat islands were defined as a 125m2 area where the temperature measured at least 2°C higher than average temperatures for the study area. Hot spots were 2m2 areas where the temperature measured at least 2°C higher than average temperatures for the study area, which allowed the impacts of specific land uses to be identified.

Why undertake urban heat mapping? - acc

Why undertake urban heat mapping?

Due to a changing climate, the Western Adelaide Region is already experiencing longer, hotter and more frequent heatwaves which have the potential to impact the health and wellbeing of our community, as well as Council’s ability to deliver key services.  The impact of urban heat will be exacerbated by the future urban form with higher densities, smaller backyards with limited opportunity for trees and other green infrastructure to assist with cooling, reduced canopy cover across the landscape and increases in summer temperatures.  These conditions could also exacerbate urban heat islands and result in higher localised temperatures. 

Heatwaves and higher temperatures experienced in summer impact community health, which often results in increased mortality, hospital admissions and ambulance call-outs.  In particular, higher temperatures impact members of the community who have pre-existing conditions relating to heart, renal and mental health. 

The project provides a ‘snapshot’ of surface temperatures across the study area.  Thermal data was collected using a specialist remote sensing aircraft across 110 suburbs covering the Cities of West Torrens, Charles Sturt and Port Adelaide Enfield. The fly-over occurred on 9 February 2017 during the day (11am-4pm), and again at night (11pm-3am) in a north-south direction 3,000 metres above the ground, producing maps at a resolution of two metres. The collection of day and night data allowed analysis into the thermal patterns of heat during the day and identified where heat continues to radiate from different materials and surfaces into the night.  

Results will play a key role in influencing the work Council does, such as urban greening and prioritising tree planting, water sensitive urban design and urban design projects.  

Providing access to this information for residents and businesses will help to inform their own decision making about cooling strategies around their properties and neighbourhoods.

Key findings for the City of Charles Sturt: - acc

Key findings for the City of Charles Sturt:

  • The hottest suburbs were Ridleyton, Hindmarsh, Bowden, Brompton and Renown Park
  • The coolest areas within the City of Charles Sturt were found near West Lakes, around the golf courses in Grange and Seaton, and generally along the coast.  
  • 20.1% (representing 20,908 residents) of Charles Sturt residents live within a daytime heat island, which was the highest proportion compared with Port Adelaide Enfield (17.2%) and West Torrens (5.6%).  Within the City of Charles Sturt, the most severe of these urban heat islands occur in Brompton, Hindmarsh, Albert Park and Hendon.
  • Heavily tree lined streets were at least 8°C cooler than adjacent streets where little or no street trees were present. 
  • Green infrastructure (trees, grass, open space) generally provided cooling benefits, compared with infrastructure such as roads, footpaths and buildings which all generally contributed to heat. 
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) including rain gardens have a localised cooling effect.
  • Artificial turf measured 8.1°C warmer than the average surface temperature for across the region.
  • Rubber softfall, commonly used in playgrounds had a surface temperature of 52°C.

Charles Sturt Heat Map

Further information - acc - Heat Map

Further information

Western Adelaide Urban Heat Island Mapping Project - Report 2017 (13911 kb)

View the urban heat maps on West Maps, hosted by the City of West Torrens

AdaptWest Regional Climate Change Adaptation Plan (October 2016) (17375 kb)

Contact Council’s Waste & Sustainability team on 8408 1111 or to discuss further.

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