Inversion Events in Australia Affecting Citizens’ Health

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Australia – the great outback, known for its pale blue waters and koala bears. Today though, it’s also being known as a hub for pollution. In fact, new research indicates that Australia’s biggest cities will face increases in temperature inversion events, leading to severe health issues in its populations.

Australia faces more than 3,000 premature deaths a year linked to urban air pollution. The worsening air quality can lead to an increase in the death toll as inversion events in Australia increase.

Inversion Air Events:

Inversion events reverse normal conditions due to cool air near the surface, which becomes trapped beneath warmer air. Since the two types of air do not mix, it allows pollutants, pollen, and dust to accumulate. This can be harmful to human health.

With more than 80% of Australia’s population living in the studied regions, the impact of these more intense air pollution in the future could be substantial.

Inversions and When They Occur:

Inversion events in Australia generally occur during calm winds, and clear skies. They thrive during long nights, and the worst events occur during the winter months. They are also more likely to occur during daylight hours, and that is when health affects are greater because more people are out and exposed to poor air quality.

Climate change leads to warmer conditions, leading to more rainfall but during fewer events. This would leave longer periods of relatively clear skies, which are beneficial to inversion events.

Major Sources of Pollution:

Sources of pollution in larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne are from hazard-reduction burning. This means getting rid of materials that are considered potentially dangerous, which ends up causing copious amounts of air pollution. Fire researchers say that the window for engaging in burn-offs is decreasing, particularly in the spring. This favors inversion events.

Australia’s Climate:

Australia is one of the most climatically diverse places on Earth. Its various ecosystems adapt to scorching heat, cold, or climate that resides between the two.

Since the start of the 19th century, Australia’s average temperature at sea and in the air has increased by around 1 degree Celsius. Australia is currently experiencing more frequent, intense heat waves. This has caused extreme fires, and changes to rainfall.

Once an ecosystem goes into steep decline, causing species to die, there are dire consequences. Areas can no longer supply forest resources, or carbon storage. It affects livestock, tourism, and fresh water supplies.

What’s Next?

It’s difficult to change the landscape overnight. If Australia is to meet its own emission reduction targets and help populations from environmentally-associated health risks, they might need to institutionalize a large-scale recycling program. Burning of hazardous waste and natural resources for building developments might need to be regulated in order to taper the effects of inversion air events more generally. We hope they find good solutions.

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About Author

Nadia Zaidi

Nadia Zaidi is a freelance multimedia journalist whose work is featured in several print and digital publications. She previously developed and hosted a show on youth issues for community television, and produces short-documentaries for public outreach. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ryerson University.

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