Australian cities see higher death toll from worsening air pollution

More than 3,000 premature deaths in Australia every year are related to urban air pollution, and the figure could rise due to changing weather conditions.
More than 3,000 premature deaths in Australia every year are related to urban air pollution, and the figure could rise due to changing weather conditions. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (XINHUA) - Air pollution in Australia's major cities will worsen, in turn causing more premature deaths, according to a latest Australian-linked research on Monday (July 16).

More than 3,000 premature deaths in the country every year are related to urban air pollution and the figure could rise due to changing weather conditions, local media cited Australian researcher Jason Evans, a co-author of the findings published in the Climate Dynamics journal, as saying on Monday.

Evans and his team analysed two decades of weather data covering nine weather sites across southeastern Australia, including major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

With more than 80 per cent of Australia's population living in the south-eastern areas and large population growth expected, "the impact of more intense air pollution events in the future could be substantial," they said.

Their study looked at the impact of global warming on temperature inversions, especially near surface temperature inversions, which can amplify air pollution by preventing convective movements and trapping pollutants close to the ground, thus increasing health issues.

Air temperature normally decreases with altitude but the inversion can trap cool air near the surface under warm air, building up harmful pollutants.

The researchers reported that there is a substantial increase in the strength of near surface temperature inversions over south-east Australia, which suggests that future inversions may intensify poor air quality events.