Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Report says Sydney facing tough times


Average temperatures in Australia's largest city will rise by about 5°C in the next 65 years, with devastating consequences including 1,300 more deaths per year, the annihilation of endangered species, water shortages and more wildfires, a government study released yesterday predicts.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) said in a report for the New South Wales state government that average annual temperatures in Sydney will rise from the current 26°C to around 31°C by 2070.

In summer, when temperatures in Sydney's landlocked suburbs often top 35°C, maximum temperatures could rise by as much as 7°C, the research organization predicted, after analyzing a range of climate models.

As a result, heat-related deaths of people over 65 will increase from the current average of 176 per year to 1,312 by 2050; and by 2070 Sydney could be in drought for nine out of every 10 years instead of the current average of three.

"Such trends would also increase evaporation, heat waves, extreme winds and fire risk," the report said.

The CSIRO, the government's main scientific group, said the predicted hotter temperatures would have significant effects on the ecosystem around Sydney, threatening some already endangered plant species and the animals that feed on them. Rising sea levels could also destroy the natural habitats of many species, it said.

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