Impacts and adaptation responses of infrastructure and communities to heatwaves

From 27 January to 8 February 2009, southern Australia experienced one of the nation’s most severe heatwaves. Governments, councils, utilities, hospitals and emergency response organizations, and the community were largely under-prepared for an extreme event of this magnitude.

This case study was funded by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) under its Synthesis and Integrative Research Program. The study targets the experience and challenges faced by decision-makers and policy-makers, and focuses on the major metropolitan areas affected by the heatwave: Melbourne and Adelaide.

This report highlights the south-eastern Australian heatwave of 2009. During the summer of 2009, this area of Australia experienced an extreme heatwave between 27 January and 8 February. In the context of previous heatwaves, the event registered as one of the nation‘s most severe episodes of high temperatures over an extended period of time. As many as 500 people died as a result of the 2009 heatwave in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Financial losses – mainly as a consequence of power outages, transport service disruptions and response costs – have been estimated at $800 million. Governments, councils, hospitals and emergency response organisations and the community were largely under-prepared for a heatwave of this magnitude.

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