New heat maps will help communities adapt to climate impacts

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

A new national heat index map and tool will help local communities and decision makers better prepare and respond to extreme heat across Australia.

Today the Albanese Government releases the Heat-Health Risk Index, a new Australia Climate Service tool that will help identify risks to residents in heat waves.

Extreme heat leads to more deaths and hospital admissions annually than any other hazard in Australia, and the data shows this risk varies significantly across communities.

Developed as part of the first National Climate Risk Assessment, the index uses community-level data such as housing and access to transportation, socioeconomic and health status, and factors like vegetation and available services to create a risk score.

The index is the latest step in the Albanese Government’s effort to equip communities with the information and tools they need to build resilience and adaptive capacity. This includes Round One of the $1 billion Disaster Ready Fund providing $200 million Commonwealth investment for 187 projects in 2023-24.

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister said the index provides better understanding of climate risks at a granular level and will assist locally led climate adaptation.

“Australians know that climate change is real. Understanding the impacts of extreme heat on the health of our communities is critical to improving outcomes. This is why the Australian Government is undertaking the nation’s first National Climate Risk Assessment.

“The Albanese Government will continue to do everything we can to reduce our emissions and limit the impact of climate change. But there are some changes that are now locked in, and we must take steps to adapt. We are investing in tools like this one to help local communities to do just that.

“Adapting to climate risk is a task for all of us. Mapping tools like the Heat-Health Index allow communities to better prepare and respond at a local level. It will mean local organisations and councils can not only identify what areas are most at risk of heat stress, but also identify what factors make a difference like housing conditions, and access to green space or transport.

“By including factors like language spoken, vegetation, and housing; local areas can tailor their response to best fit the needs of communities. It will help identify locations for cool refuges likes libraries or where green canopy can be planted.”

The Heat-Health Risk Index project has been developed by the Australian Climate Service, a partnership between the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Geoscience Australia. It is a pilot that will help to identify other information needed to improve approaches to mitigate, avoid or adapt to heatwaves.

Along with using the latest data and insights from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it draws on climate projections and expertise from both the Bureau and CSIRO and built environment information from Geoscience Australia.

To view the Heat-Health Risk Index visit: Heat and our health

/Public Release. View in full here.