New device hung around Aussie city could lead to a temperature change

With summers becoming hotter, the 200 devices will map Sydney's varying temperatures so strategies can be designed to help keep residents cool.

Hundreds of deodorant-sized devices are being strung up around an Australian city to measure differences in temperature.

The gauges will be placed along roads, in trees, and on buildings to gather data which will be used to create a map of Sydney’s microclimates. This information will help planners design measures to keep us cool as rising summer heat increases to record levels, threatening health and wellbeing.

In order to shield the readers from direct solar radiation, they’ll be placed inside reusable white aluminium cans. Each device will take note of the temperature every 10 minutes until March 24, and cumulatively gather over 3 million readings.

A temperature device (white) in a tree. The centrepoint tower can be seen in the background.
The City of Sydney is installing 200 devices to measure microclimates. Source: Supplied

While 150 of the logging devices will only take temperature readings, 50 others will also gather humidity data to estimate a “feels like” reading.

2023 is set to be the hottest year on record and the problem is set to worsen because countries like Australia, China, Russia and the United States continue to mine and burn large amounts of fossil fuels.

This is causing the level of carbon in the atmosphere to increase, and this causes more severe and extreme weather.

Climate study will help protect city's workers

Research from Western Sydney University has found the temperature could become 10 degrees hotter during the summer months as a direct result of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. This phenomenon is caused when hard surfaces like buildings and roads absorb large amounts of warmth during the day.

The City of Sydney is working to reduce the impact of UHI through strategic planting of shade giving trees, and the removal of species like London Plane Trees.

A close up of one of the temperature devices.
The temperature devices have been placed inside reusable aluminium cans. Source: Supplied

Western University’s Dr Sebastian Pfautsch is leading the new temperature measuring program. He has warned without better understanding of the city’s microclimates visitors to the city and workers will be “left defenceless when extreme heat strikes”.

“The question is not if the city centre will ever see 45 degrees, but rather how well the city is prepared to care for its people when the mercury hits new records,” he said.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the study will help the city prepare better strategies to cool the community.

“Our climate is trending warmer and the weather is becoming more extreme, so we must prepare and adapt,” she said.

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