Council has worked with leading urban heat experts at Western Sydney University to map heat across the region, to strategically identify priority hotspots for action. Over the summer of 2019/20, a network of 120 heat sensors were installed across the Penrith area, with air temperature results recorded at 10-minute intervals. Over 1.4 million temperature measurements were collected. There was a clear correlation in the results between greener areas and those with higher levels of canopy having cooler temperatures, and more urbanised spaces having higher temperatures. The resulting heat maps allow Council to identify priority suburbs/locations for practical actions such as tree planting to provide shade and cooling.
Prior to this research, official weather monitoring was only undertaken by the Federal Government’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). The weather station present is located away from urban spaces so is not unduly impacted by the urban heat island effect, and therefore does not reflect localised temperatures across the region.
This research recorded air temperatures of over 50oC at 6 locations in Penrith, and also showed significant outcomes such as the St Marys CBD remained up to 2.40C warmer at nighttime compared to surrounding residential areas, and 39 days were recorded over 350C compared to the BoM records of 24 days. The research provides a snapshot of the variabilities of heat across the region and an evidence -base for future action. It has also been applied in the development of the Green Grid Strategy and to develop a vulnerability assessment webtool for Penrith.
Trees and green cover provide positive outcomes in terms of cooling urban spaces, boosting physical and mental health, and creating more desirable, soothing, and visually appealing suburbs and places. Council is promoting these benefits in a number of ways: