​Cities facing brunt of heat wave due to ‘urban heat island effect’: CSE

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

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The intense heat wave conditions sweeping across India, which have already claimed about 2,000 lives, could be another manifestation of an extreme weather event following climate change, say researchers at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a research and advocacy organisation.

“Climate records show that human-induced global warming had turned 2014 into the hottest year on record. Eight out of the 10 warmest years in India were during the recent past decade (2001-2010), making it the warmest decade on record with a decadal mean temperature anomaly of 0.49 °C.” said CSE in a release.

It said cities are bearing the brunt because of the magnified effect of paved surfaces and lack of tree cover, and termed this as “urban heat island effect”.

​“Urban heat island effects can make ambient temperatures feel 3 to 4 degrees more than what they are”, said Arjuna Srinidhi, programme manager, climate change, CSE.

A heat wave is declared when the temperature is five degrees or more than the average temperature recorded on that particular day over the past three decades.

Srinidhi said the higher death toll this year, despite shorter duration heat wave as compared to 2010, could be due to the sudden change in temperatures after a prolonged wet February and March.

CSE climate researchers warned of more heat waves as globally temperatures had risen by an average .8 degrees in the past 100 years. “Night-time temperatures are rising, too, with Ahmedabad and Delhi recently reporting 39 and 36 degrees centigrade.

There is enough evidence of extreme weather events being on the rise, Srinidhi said, adding that “this year, we saw the wettest March in about 50 years, and we have already seen the second major flood in Kashmir in a period of six months. These are all extreme weather events.”

Published on May 28, 2015

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