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Heatwaves ‘growing more intense’

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Heatwaves now start earlier in the year, last longer and are more intense because of global warming, the Actuaries Institute’s Catastrophe Risk Seminar heard last week.

The frequency of heatwaves is expected to double by 2030, University of NSW climate change scientist Andy Pitman says.

There is also a slow upward trend in bushfire risk, but cyclones are so rare the data is not good enough to predict how their frequency and intensity might be changing.

“We need to build significant investment in resilience, lower vulnerability and plan for very significant climate change – because it is coming,” Professor Pitman said.

Geoscience Australia Senior Seismologist Mark Leonard told the seminar there is uncertainty around Australian earthquake hazards, with virtually no data available.

There is no evidence of quakes in the Sydney Basin or of major quakes in Perth, but Adelaide has identified faultlines and there are some under Melbourne, plus the Selwyn Fault on the Mornington Peninsula.