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SIMPLIFIER: HEAT STRESS IN INDIAN CITIES



  May 29, 2024

SIMPLIFIER: HEAT STRESS IN INDIAN CITIES



What is the issue with heat stress in Indian cities?

A study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that heat waves are becoming deadlier in major Indian cities due to rising temperatures, increasing humidity, and urban expansion. Cities are no longer cooling down at night as much as they used to.

Which cities were analyzed in the study?

The study analyzed data from six major cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru, over a period of 23 years (January 2001 - April 2024).

Why is nighttime cooling important?

Nighttime cooling provides relief from daytime heat. Reduced nighttime cooling means that people continue to experience heat stress even at night, impacting their health.

What factors contribute to heat stress?

Heat stress results from a combination of air temperature, land surface temperature, and relative humidity. High humidity limits the body’s ability to cool down through sweating, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses.

What is the “urban heat island effect”?

The “urban heat island effect” occurs when cities are significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas. Concrete and other built-up areas absorb and retain heat, contributing to higher temperatures.

What has caused the rise in humidity and heat stress?

Uncontrolled urban sprawl and the reduction of green cover have increased heat stress. For example, Chennai has seen its green cover shrink by nearly 14% in the last two decades, while the area covered by concrete has doubled.

What are the health impacts of heat stress?

High heat and humidity can compromise the body’s cooling mechanism, leading to heat stress and potentially fatal heat-related illnesses. The number of days with a heat index exceeding 41°C, which is dangerous for health, has increased in cities like Kolkata and Chennai.

What can be done to mitigate heat stress?

The CSE study recommends implementing city-specific heat management plans, increasing green cover and water bodies, improving thermal comfort in buildings, and reducing waste heat from vehicles, air conditioners, and industries. Strengthening scientific monitoring and developing emergency action plans to protect vulnerable populations during heat waves are also important.



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