Urban heat

Cities create their own microclimates by influencing the surrounding atmosphere and interacting with climate processes.

The most striking characteristic of an urban microclimate is the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Urban areas become significantly warmer than surrounding areas when there is less green cover and more hard surfaces which absorb, store and radiate heat.


The urban heat island (UHI) effect in metropolitan Sydney, Summer 2015/16. Urban areas become significantly warmer than surrounding, vegetated areas, creating ‘islands’ of urban heat

Air temperatures in Sydney are expected to increase in the future as a result of climate change and increasing urbanisation.

We have used the projections from NARCliM to provide updated information on the projected impacts of land use change on urban heat in the near future (2036).

Urban heat and land use

As cities expand and land is redeveloped, urban microclimates change. Changes in land-use has the potential to double the temperature increases caused by climate change in urban environments.

Temperature changes in summer for each projected land use change

  • Climate change is projected to increase temperatures in Sydney with maximum temperatures projected to increase by 0.7°C by 2030.
  • Change in land-use from grasslands to medium density has the greatest increase in heat (0.5°C – 0.9°C).
  • Increasing already urbanised areas from medium to high density decreases temperatures due to the building height and the influence of sea breeze in Sydney CBD.


Download information

Biodiversity Technical Report
Biodiversity Technical Report
Biodiversity Technical Report
Urban Heat Maps

ZIP - 32.3 mb

Biodiversity Technical Report
Urban Heat Data

ZIP - 1.2 mb

Urban heat vulnerability in Metropolitan Sydney

Partnering with the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) Hub, we have delivered a baseline dataset to assess urban heat and green cover in the Sydney Greater Metropolitan Area.

Some areas may be more exposed and sensitive to increasing urban heat than others because of the local demographic characteristics and amount of urban vegetation.

The Urban Heat and Green Cover Baseline Assessment has mapped areas of urban heat vulnerability in metropolitan Sydney, Summer 2015/16, which is related to the amount of green cover in those areas.

We are providing tailored information to enable decision makers to better understand the relationship between land use, urban vegetation and heat at a local scale.

This can assist planners to manage risks and capture opportunities to increase urban vegetation, reflective and permeable surfaces to create more liveable cities.

Download information

Data from the Urban Heat and Green Cover Project is made available through the NSW Government’s Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data portal (SEED). 

Please visit the SEED portal to access datasets on urban vegetation cover, land surface temperatures and areas of heat vulnerability.