Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Oral Presentations
Background and Objective:
As global warming continues, the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves are likely to increase. However, a heatwave is unlikely to be defined uniformly because acclimatisation plays a significant role in determining the heat-related impact. This study investigated how to best define a heatwave in Brisbane, Australia.
Computerised datasets on daily weather, air pollution and health outcomes between 1996 and 2005 were obtained from pertinent government agencies. Paired t-tests and case-crossover analyses were performed to assess the relationship between heatwaves and health outcomes using different heatwave definitions.
The maximum temperature was as high as 41.5°C with a mean maximum daily temperature of 26.3°C. None of the five commonly-used heatwave definitions suited Brisbane well on the basis of the health effects of heatwaves. Additionally, there were pros and cons when locally-defined definitions were attempted using either a relative or absolute definition for extreme temperatures.
The issue of how to best define a heatwave is complex. It is important to identify an appropriate definition of heatwave locally and to underst and its health effects.