Wildfire experts at Western Sydney University are on hand as the weather warms
As the weather heats up this week, Western Sydney University experts are available to comment on matters related to the upcoming bushfire season, including environmental impacts, tourism, fire management and more.
Dr. Rachel Nolan, Hawkesbury Institute of the Environment, assesses wildfire risk and impacts
Dr. Nolan works at the intersection of plant ecophysiology, fire ecology, and wildfire management. Her research links science, policy, and management, with the goal of providing early warning of wildfire risks and predicting their impacts on ecosystems in a changing climate. Dr Nolan is a member of the Bushfire Research Group at the Hawkesbury Institute of the Environment and Deputy Director of the NSW Bushfire Research and Natural Hazards Centre.
“With a drier-than-average fire season expected, we are likely to see a resurgence of wildfires in upcoming fire seasons. However, we are unlikely to witness another black summer this year, which came after a 3-year drought.
Dr. Thomas Longden, Center for Urban Transformations Research, Temperature and Energy
Dr Thomas Longden is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Western Sydney’s Urban Transformations Research Center (UTRC). His work on temperature-related deaths and temperature-related energy insecurity has been published in leading international journals, including Nature Energy and Climatic Change.
“One of the more challenging effects of extreme heat is the risk of death and ill health from hot weather. Heat stress can exacerbate existing health conditions including diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Older adults are at particular risk.”
“Heat is more dangerous than cold in most Australian regions. 2 per cent of deaths in Australia between 2006 and 2017 were due to heat. In the three warmest climatic zones, this number was higher, ranging from 4.5 per cent to 9.1 per cent.” . of deaths. In the cooler climatic zone, 3.6 percent of deaths were due to cold and heat was less severe.
“Lack of acclimatization can make some heatwaves more dangerous than others because of the physiological effect on people’s thermoregulation. These events mean that people are going to figure that out.”
“Extreme temperatures will increase demand for electricity due to the need to cool homes, which can become an expense that puts even more pressure on already stretched budgets. The type of billing will change how energy affordability affects households.”
Associate Professor Ian Wright, School of Science, Water Quality and Environmental Impact
Associate Professor Wright teaches classes in water science and management, environmental planning and environmental regulation. He has been a water scientist for more than 30 years and now leads a small team conducting high-impact, highly engaging research addressing issues of water resource sustainability. He has published research on water quality and the environmental impact of wildfires on streams and peat wetlands of high conservation value in the Blue Mountains region, including the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains.
“After the forest fires in the black summer (2019/2020) it rained very heavily, especially in the Blue Mountains. This has led to significant erosion and environmental damage in the endangered peat bogs of the World Heritage Area.
“Sydney experienced water quality problems at its main water reservoir, the Warragamba Dam, following bushfires in the black summer 2019/20 and after heavy rains.”
“For people in the Australia region, having access to a safe and secure water supply in preparation for drought and bushfires is an invaluable gift. For many, it could be a lifesaver.
Professor Joseph M. Cher, School of Social Sciences, Sustainable Tourism and Heritage
Professor Cheer is Associate Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal Geography of Tourism (Taylor & Francis), Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future Council on the Future of Sustainable Tourism and a recent board member of the Asia Pacific Travel Association (PATA). ), the leading group in the tourism industry in the region. He can provide commentary on the impacts of tourism and how destinations can build resilience to crises in Australia, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.
“Tourist destinations in Australia must put in place detailed crisis management plans in anticipation of unprecedented heatwaves this summer. Recent fires in Greece, Italy, Canada and Hawaii are harbingers of what is to come.
“For tourism destinations close to nature, especially national parks, the urgency to act proactively now is clear.”
Assistant Associate Professor Carlin Gribble, College of Nursing and Midwifery, Young Children and Families in Emergencies
Associate Professor Gribble is a world-leading researcher in infants and young children in emergencies and has been involved in research, policy development and training in this area since 2006. She is the lead of the Australian Breastfeeding Society’s Infant and Young Community Safeguarding Project. Children’s Wildfire Project. This first Australian project is conducting research on the experiences of carers of infants and young children during the Black Summer and is working with organizations on the NSW South Coast to experiment with contingency planning and preparation to support very young children in future bushfires.
“Caring for a baby or young child profoundly affects a parent’s experiences in an emergency. Younger children are vulnerable to dehydration during hot weather, and the resources needed to keep them safe and healthy can be difficult in the midst of a disaster.”
“Emergency messages for children during heat waves are often a big problem for children, as it is recommended to drink more water when the weather is hot, but children under 6 months of age should not be given any water to drink because the infant’s kidneys are immature, so they can develop Water poisoning.”
“Children are more vulnerable to heat stress and dehydration during heat waves.”
September 6, 2023
Image source: Sally Tsoutas