Rockhampton grazier Mick Alexander, Australian Institute principal advisor Mark Ogge and ANU's Dr Elizabeth Hanna.
Rockhampton grazier Mick Alexander, Australian Institute principal advisor Mark Ogge and ANU's Dr Elizabeth Hanna. Geordi Offord

Dramatic increase in extreme heat forecast for Rockhampton

AUSTRALIA'S beef capital is set to sizzle like a steak on the barbecue unless a dramatic intervention occurs, according to a progressive Australian think tank.

The Australia Institute has crunched the Bureau of Meteorology's data and CSIRO predictions to paint a grim picture for the future climate of the Rockhampton region.

Their research discovered that the number of days over 35 degrees has nearly doubled in Rockhampton in recent years and unless there was a strong policy response to climate change which focused on reducing carbon emissions, Rockhampton would bear the brunt of negative weather conditions including more droughts, fires, floods and triple the number of days over 35 degrees.

The Australia Institute's Heat Watch initiative predicted that by 2030, Rockhampton was expected to endure 29 days over 35 degrees and by 2070 almost half the days of summer (70) would be scorchers. The Australia Institute's principal advisor Mark Ogge said yesterday that the extreme heat due to climate change would have a devastating impact on the Rockhampton region.

COMPARISON: The business-as-usual scenario (in red) is compared to the scenario where strong emission reduction is achieved (in blue).
COMPARISON: The business-as-usual scenario (in red) is compared to the scenario where strong emission reduction is achieved (in blue). Bureau of Meteorology

"There will be an increase in heat related deaths, agricultural productivity will be hit hard and people's quality of life will plummet,” Mr Ogge said.

"Even more alarming is the combination of increased extreme heat with high humidity levels, which reduces the ability of the human body to cool itself.

"This represents a serious threat to the health and well-being of the Rockhampton community.”

HEAT WARNING: Principal advisor at The Australia Institute Mark Ogge, ANU's expert specialising in public health impacts of climate change and extreme heat Dr Elizabeth Hanna, Director GBP QLD Mick Alexander, are concerned about rising temperatures in the future.
HEAT WARNING: Principal advisor at The Australia Institute Mark Ogge, ANU's expert specialising in public health impacts of climate change and extreme heat Dr Elizabeth Hanna, Director GBP QLD Mick Alexander, are concerned about rising temperatures in the future. Leighton Smith

Mr Ogge said Queensland made a significant contribution to global levels of carbon emissions by not only burning coal and gas but exporting it to other countries.

"The silver lining is that this isn't inevitable if we do reduce emissions by a significant amount, impact will be much less,” he said.

If decisive steps were taken now, Mr Ogge said by 2070, the number of days over 35 degrees would be half what they would otherwise be.

HOTTER FUTURE: It is predicted that there will be a dramatic increase in the frequency of extreme heat days in summer. Under a BAU scenario on greenhouse emissions, the CSIRO and BoM estimate that Rockhampton could experience an average of one in four summer days over 35 degrees in 2030, one in 3.5 by 2050 and 47% - nearly half - of summer days in extreme heat by 2070.
HOTTER FUTURE: It is predicted that there will be a dramatic increase in the frequency of extreme heat days in summer. Under a BAU scenario on greenhouse emissions, the CSIRO and BoM estimate that Rockhampton could experience an average of one in four summer days over 35 degrees in 2030, one in 3.5 by 2050 and 47% - nearly half - of summer days in extreme heat by 2070. Bureau of Meteorology

"Given the vulnerability of Rockhampton to climate change, strong emissions reduction policies are in the state's interest,” he said.

By transitioning towards renewable technology, scaling back our fossil fuel exports and calling for global action, Mr Ogge said we could reduce the impact of climate change on future generations.

"When coal and gas exporters reduce their exports, the price goes up and there's a greater drive for replacing it with renewable energy,” he said.

"Renewables are already cheaper than coal and gas.

"I think we need to start winding back the industries that are adding to this problem and phase them out over time.

"I know that jobs are a huge concern for everybody but it's not a matter of coal jobs or nothing, there's a number of different options for jobs and a whole lot of industries that can fill that gap over time.”

HISTORICAL DATA: The last five years have averaged 31.6 days over 35 degrees. This represents a near doubling since the middle of the 20th century with the trend likely to continue upwards in coming decades.
HISTORICAL DATA: The last five years have averaged 31.6 days over 35 degrees. This represents a near doubling since the middle of the 20th century with the trend likely to continue upwards in coming decades. Bureau of Meteorology

He said it was fortunate that Queensland was in a strong position to reduce, implement, and benefit from strong climate and energy emissions reduction policies with the state's renewable energy target set to drive renewable energy development to reduce emissions, create jobs and bring other economic benefits.

Local beef farmer Mick Alexander said some of the biggest climate issues they were facing in Central Queensland was the increased rate of evaporation of water storages and the impact of hot conditions on cattle where they were unable to cool down, were drinking more water and had less shade due to vegetation clearing.

HEAT WARNING: Principal advisor at The Australia Institute Mark Ogge, ANU's expert specialising in public health impacts of climate change and extreme heat Dr Elizabeth Hanna, Director GBP QLD Mick Alexander, are concerned about rising temperatures in the future.
HEAT WARNING: Principal advisor at The Australia Institute Mark Ogge, ANU's expert specialising in public health impacts of climate change and extreme heat Dr Elizabeth Hanna, Director GBP QLD Mick Alexander, are concerned about rising temperatures in the future. Leighton Smith

"Climate change is causing extremely hot summers and even unseasonably hot winters are forcing us to rethink paddock layout, tree retention and even man-made shade structures to reduce heat impact on livestock,” Mr Alexander said.

Mr Alexander said he would like to see a more concerted effort to re-vegetate the environment to capture the carbon from the air.

FLOODING DATA: Three of Rockhampton's eight major flooding events over the last 150 years have occurred within the last six summers in 2011, 2013 and 2017.
FLOODING DATA: Three of Rockhampton's eight major flooding events over the last 150 years have occurred within the last six summers in 2011, 2013 and 2017. Bureau of Meteorology

ROCKHAMPTON HEATWAVES: The trend of over 35 degree days in Rockhampton has increased significantly over the last 75 years.
ROCKHAMPTON HEATWAVES: The trend of over 35 degree days in Rockhampton has increased significantly over the last 75 years. Bureau of Meteorology


Special history behind memorial shed burnt down by children

premium_icon Special history behind memorial shed burnt down by children

FOR some it may have just been a shed, but not for the O'Donnells

Meet the Aussie woman who dressed Meghan Markle

premium_icon Meet the Aussie woman who dressed Meghan Markle

'This is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.'

He tracked her car, called 200+ times daily after break-up

premium_icon He tracked her car, called 200+ times daily after break-up

MARK Jason Rogers was described by a judge as 'emotionally unhinged'

Local Partners