Urban Heat Mapping

Urban heat mapping has been undertaken by the Cities of West Torrens, Charles Sturt and Port Adelaide Enfield, in partnership with the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board.

The thermal mapping and Western Adelaide Urban Heat Mapping Report (2017) identify where heat builds up across the region during hot weather. It also investigated where hotspots and heat islands overlap with vulnerable members of the community, or where higher localised temperatures may affect the way open space and the public realm is utilised.

The project is part of the AdaptWest program and the implementation of the Western Adelaide Region Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2016) which seeks to ensure our communities can continue to thrive in a changing climate.


What is an urban heat island?

The urban environment is characterised by built structures, activities and materials which have replaced natural surfaces.  Artificial surfaces such as roads, footpaths and buildings store and accumulate heat which can affect temperatures at the local scale. These surfaces are also impervious, meaning less moisture is available to assist with cooling.  This, in turn, leads to an increase in the minimum and maximum temperatures of a city compared with surrounding or less developed areas and is known as the 'urban heat island' effect.

For the purposes of this project, heat islands were defined as a 125m2 area where the temperature measured at least 2°C higher than average temperatures for the study area. Hot spots were 2m2 areas where the temperature measured at least 2°C higher than average temperatures for the study area, which allowed the impacts of specific land uses to be identified.


Why undertake heat mapping?

Urban heat mapping was undertaken to gain a better understanding of how materials, urban design, different land uses and even housing density can impact or improve the liveability of public areas and private homes during our often long, dry and hot summer periods. Due to a changing climate, the Western Adelaide Region is already experiencing longer, hotter and more frequent heatwaves which have the potential to impact the health and well-being of our community, as well as the councils’ ability to deliver key services. The future urban form will also have higher densities, smaller backyards and less opportunity for trees or other green infrastructure to assist with cooling. 

The project provides a 'snapshot' of surface temperatures of the study area.  A flyover was undertaken on February 9 2017 during the day (11am-4pm), and again in the night (11pm-3am) to investigate how heat continues to radiate from different built materials and surface areas into the evening. Data was collected using a specialist remote sensing aircraft across 110 suburbs covering the three council areas. 

Results will also play a key role in influencing the work we do, such as urban greening and prioritising tree planting, water sensitive urban design and urban design projects. Heatwaves and higher temperatures experienced in summer impact community health, which often results in increased mortality, hospital admissions and ambulance call-outs.  In particular, higher temperatures impact members of the community who have pre-existing conditions relating to heart, renal and mental health.


Key findings for West Torrens

  • Our hottest suburbs were Ashford, Keswick, Kurralta Park, Mile End South and Thebarton
  • 5.6% of West Torrens residents live within a daytime heat island, which was the lowest proportion compared with Charles Sturt (20.1%) and Port Adelaide Enfield (17.2%).
  • Heavily tree lined streets were at least 8°C cooler than adjacent streets where little or no street trees were present
  • Artificial turf measured 8.1°C warmer than the average surface temperature for across the region
  • Rubber softfall, commonly used in playgrounds had a surface temperature of 52°C.


Further information

Click here to download a copy of the Western Adelaide Urban Heat Mapping Report pdf (14MB)

Click here to view urban heat maps on West Maps

Click here to download a copy of the AdaptWest Climate Change Adaptation Plan pdf (17MB)


For enquiries relating to this project, please contact the relevant officer in your council area.


City of West Torrens
Amy Bruckman, Environment Sustainability Officer

Phone: 8416 6333
Email: abruckman@wtcc.sa.gov.au


City of Charles Sturt
Environment Management Officer

Phone: 8408 1111
Email: council@charlessturt.sa.gov.au


City of Port Adelaide Enfield
Maggie Hine, Team Leader Strategic Planning and Environment

Phone: 8405 6943
Email: maggie.hine@portenf.sa.gov.au