Project 4

Thermal stress, urban environments and health

This project is examining the health impacts of climate change and adaptation opportunities in greater western Sydney. It has a particular focus on vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, the role of the urban environment in mitigating or exacerbating impacts, and the preparedness of health and other services to meet the challenges of climate change.

Thermal stress, arising from increased average temperatures and a greater number of hot days expected with climate change, is one of the major health outcomes of interest in this region. Certain groups of people are more vulnerable to excessive heat, for example because of existing illnesses, poor housing quality or poverty, while some features of the urban environment, such as shady parks and other cool public places, may provide a level of protection.

Greater western Sydney is a large and rapidly expanding urban area with a socioeconomically and culturally diverse population. It thus provides an unparalleled opportunity to research and develop health adaptation strategies that are timely, in terms of urban planning, as well as nationally and globally relevant.

Objectives

  1. To investigate probable health impacts of climate change, such as thermal stress, in the urban environment (greater western Sydney region and the ACT) using scenario-based modelling to quantify these impacts on population health and the associated effects on the health system and other infrastructure (e.g. electricity).
  2. To identify opportunities for intervention and adaptation planning, with particular consideration given to areas and population sub-groups that are especially at risk (such as the elderly).
  3. To identify co-benefits of adaptation and intervention, i.e. actions that will bring immediate benefits to human health regardless of future climate change.

Published literature

2 journal manuscripts are currently under review

5 journal manuscripts are currently in preparation

Research team

Associate Professor Hilary Bambrick (Project leader)
  • Associate Professor in Population Health, Health Services and Outcomes Research Group and School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney;
  • Visiting Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University
Dr Pavla Vaneckova
  • Research Fellow, Health Services and Outcomes Research Group and School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney
Mr Anthony Burton
  • PhD Scholar, Health Services and Outcomes Research Group and School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney
Professor Anthony Capon
  • Head, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra
Associate Professor Keith Dear
  • Senior Fellow (Biostatistics), National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University
Professor Tord Kjellström
  • Visiting Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University
  • Honorary Professor, UCL (London, UK), University of Tromso (Norway), Umea University (Sweden), and Wellington School of Medicine (New Zealand)

Project partners

  • University of Western Sydney
  • ANU
  • CSIRO
  • University of Canberra

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