Document / Publication
Using the PerilAUS archive of heat-related fatalities in Australia, this paper proposes to develop a classification of heatwave events in terms of their risk potential for human loss of life. This paper also quantifies the likely death toll from populations exposed to each of these categories. This study also catalogued 466 events in south-east Australia using the Excess Heat Factor and the newly developed heatwave categories. Using principal component analysis to identify the key modes of variability, a synthetic catastrophic heatwave scenario is generated and analysed for projected fatalities.
Following the framework introduced in this report, additional data, such as ambulance calls or hospitalisation records, would allow the development of complementary vulnerability curves and enable in-depth analysis of the effects of heatwaves on human health. Similarly, the fatality curve could be refined to capture the death-rate-by-age band or other characteristics of the degree of resilience of the local population. This would allow a better representation of the areas at risk. Such considerations would be valuable input to assess the capability of emergency response services to cope. This framework might answer questions such as whether medical staff in local communities can handle the projected heat-related hospitalisations during extreme heat events.
Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Volume 31, Issue 4, August 2016, pp. 31-37. This document is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.