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Exploring 167 years of vulnerability: An examination of extreme heat events in Australia 1844-2010

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Despite their relative importance in terms of human mortality, extreme heat events have not attracted the same level of study compared with other natural hazards in regards to vulnerability and implications for emergency management and policy change. Definitional confusion and inconsistencies in defining heat related deaths over time have made it difficult to determine an absolute death toll. Notwithstanding these issues, this study employs PerilAUS - Risk Frontiers' database of natural hazard event impacts - in combination with official sources in an attempt to provide a lower-bound estimate of heat-associated deaths in Australia since European settlement. From 1844 to 2010, extreme heat events have been responsible for at least 5332 fatalities in Australia and, since 1900, 4555: more than the combined total of deaths from all other natural hazards. Over 30% of those deaths occurred in just nine events. Both deaths and death rates (per unit of population) fluctuate widely but show an overall decrease with time. The male to female death-rate ratio has fluctuated and approaches but does not reach equality in more recent times. In line with other studies, seniors have been the most vulnerable age group overall, with infants also over-represented. Policy implications in view of a warming climate and an ageing population are discussed.

UOW Authors


  •   Coates, Lucinda (external author)
  •   Haynes, Kat A.
  •   O'Brien, James (external author)
  •   McAneney, John (external author)
  •   Dimer de Oliveira, Felipe (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Coates, L., Haynes, K., O'Brien, J., McAneney, J. & Dimer de Oliveira, F. (2014). Exploring 167 years of vulnerability: An examination of extreme heat events in Australia 1844-2010. Environmental Science and Policy, 42 33-44.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84902298017

Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 33

End Page


  • 44

Volume


  • 42

Place Of Publication


  • United States

Abstract


  • Despite their relative importance in terms of human mortality, extreme heat events have not attracted the same level of study compared with other natural hazards in regards to vulnerability and implications for emergency management and policy change. Definitional confusion and inconsistencies in defining heat related deaths over time have made it difficult to determine an absolute death toll. Notwithstanding these issues, this study employs PerilAUS - Risk Frontiers' database of natural hazard event impacts - in combination with official sources in an attempt to provide a lower-bound estimate of heat-associated deaths in Australia since European settlement. From 1844 to 2010, extreme heat events have been responsible for at least 5332 fatalities in Australia and, since 1900, 4555: more than the combined total of deaths from all other natural hazards. Over 30% of those deaths occurred in just nine events. Both deaths and death rates (per unit of population) fluctuate widely but show an overall decrease with time. The male to female death-rate ratio has fluctuated and approaches but does not reach equality in more recent times. In line with other studies, seniors have been the most vulnerable age group overall, with infants also over-represented. Policy implications in view of a warming climate and an ageing population are discussed.

UOW Authors


  •   Coates, Lucinda (external author)
  •   Haynes, Kat A.
  •   O'Brien, James (external author)
  •   McAneney, John (external author)
  •   Dimer de Oliveira, Felipe (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Coates, L., Haynes, K., O'Brien, J., McAneney, J. & Dimer de Oliveira, F. (2014). Exploring 167 years of vulnerability: An examination of extreme heat events in Australia 1844-2010. Environmental Science and Policy, 42 33-44.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84902298017

Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 33

End Page


  • 44

Volume


  • 42

Place Of Publication


  • United States