The Urban Heat Island is one of the biggest issues currently affecting residents in large cities. An UHI is a city or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas, predictably owing to human activities. In this article Kavitha Nambiar, describes the main causes of the UHI effect and suggests mitigative measures. Kavitha has a Master’s in Environmental Science & Management from the University of California in US, and is currently an Associate with the Alliance to Save Energy, in Washington DC.
According to the United Nations, more than half the world’s population currently lives in urban areas. Projections show that increasing migration to cities, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with close to 90% of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. Not surprisingly, ‘mega-cities’ with over 10 million people today will continue to grow swiftly in population. Two Indian cities – Delhi and Mumbai – make the list of UN’s five most populous cities, and much like with power, growth brings its own set of issues and responsibilities.
“Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda,” according to John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), in the UN Report on World Urbanisation Prospects. If managed well, cities offer important opportunities for economic development and for expanding access to basic services, including health care and education, for large numbers of people. However, unsustainable growth of a city can cause more damage than the opportunities it creates.
According to a research conducted by the well-reputed, Delhi-based research organisation Energy and Resources Institute, temperatures in both Delhi
and Mumbai have risen by 2-3°C in the last 15 years. The ongoing study, based on NASA satellite readings, also shows the cities to be 5-7°C warmer
than in the surrounding rural areas on summer nights.
(Read the full portion of this article from the April Issue of Safety Messenger 2015)