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On the front line of climate change: Five cities battling floods, heat and storms

By Mairi Mackay, George Webster and Teo Kermeliotis
June 15, 2012 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
Heat waves
Floods
Power cuts
'We nearly lost the lungs of our city'
Stormwater capture
Melbourne:
Burning Up

In February 2009, Melbourne endured its hottest day on record. Temperatures soared to over 115F (46C). One hundred and seventy three people were killed in the fires that burned across the state of Victoria, dubbed the Black Saturday bushfires.

City stats

CITY
POPULATION
3.71 million

GROSS DOMESTIC
PRODUCT
$135 billion

GREENHOUSE GAS
EMISSIONS/CAPITA
25.8 METRIC TONNES (EST)

EXTREME WEATHER
THREAT
HEATWAVES

Source: World Bank and CDP Cities

Warm spells increasing

Warm spell: Four or more consecutive days when daily maximum temperature within 10% of seasonal high.
Source: Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

Bushfires rage amid prolonged heat and drought

In the weeks leading up to the 2009 fires, high temperatures and low rainfall created tinderbox conditions in large parts of the state of Victoria and Melbourne was still in the grip of a drought that would last nearly 10 years, from 2001 until late 2010.

Melbourne's Climate Adaptation Strategy anticipates that by 2030 the city will be experiencing much warmer temperatures and heatwaves, intense storms and flash flooding, albeit lower overall rainfall. By 2070, it expects the average annual temperature to increase by 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit (2.6 degrees Celsius), while days above 86F (30C) could double.



Multi-million-dollar
heat wave

When temperatures hit 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) in 2009, electricity cables stopped working, cutting off power to half a million homes.

It drove the cost of the heatwave up to more than $97 million (AUS$100 million), according to the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


'We nearly lost the lungs of our city'

During the drought we very nearly lost some of most beautiful trees in the world ... we had to make some decisions about how we would cope with our parks and gardens being under stress and how to future proof our city, so we focused really on stormwater harvesting

Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne



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