New Heat Sensors to track Penrith’s summer

New Heat Sensors to track Penrith’s summer

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Penrith City Council is partnering with Western Sydney University (WSU) to install 120 heat sensors to collect new Penrith heat data throughout this summer.

According to Penrith Mayor, Ross Fowler OAM, the data will be used by Council to scientifically inform and influence decision making for the City to tackle rising urban heat.

“At present, the only official local heat indicator we have is the Bureau of Meteorology weather station at Penrith Lakes, which does not accurately reflect urban heat in Penrith’s CBD.  We also know anecdotally there can be vast temperature differences across the region, but we lack evidence to support this. 

“That’s why we need accurate new heat data from across our City to make the business case for change to industry, especially developers.  If we continue to build the same way tomorrow as we do today, without considering urban heat, we are locking ourselves in to high heat for the coming decades.  That’s why we are partnering with WSU to gather data which will be used to enhance the City’s future liveability,” Cr Fowler said.

According to WSU, temperatures across urban landscapes can vary wildly, sometimes by more than 10 degrees.

Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, who is leading the study for Council, says that tree canopies and reflective surfaces can help reduce the temperatures at ground level by as much as two degrees on a sweltering day.

Planting trees is obviously important, and a core part of Council’s existing work, but it is only part of the solution to the complex problem of urban heat.

“We know from research we have already done in Parramatta, Cumberland and Campbelltown last summer, that tracking the microclimates of specific suburbs reveals they are exposed to far more extreme heat than the Bureau of Meteorology recorded,” said Dr Pfautsch.

“The process of developing Western Sydney contributes massively to heat.  By converting open, green surfaces to impermeable ones made from bitumen or concrete we reduce the capacity of water seeping into the soil and evaporating from it, whereby it cools the air.

“Bitumen actually soaks up the suns energy and re-radiates it long after the sun goes down.  This leaves our suburbs hotter during the night,” he explained.

Dr Pfautsch says that the data from the new sensors in Penrith will contribute significantly to a more meaningful picture about urban heat trends across Western Sydney.

Information contained within this news release was correct as at Thursday, 5 December 2019.