Representational Image.


Megacities Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad, are much hotter than the larger region around them due to heat island effects caused by surface absorption of heat and local waste heat generated by traffic, industry and air conditioning, among other urban activities, an analysis by Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) said on Thursday.

“The seasonal average of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad was 1-2°C higher than the all-India average and 2.5-3.8°C higher than northwest India. This is due to the urban heat island phenomenon,” CSE said.

Due to excessive hard and dark surfaces, cities tend to absorb the heat coming from the sun during the day. A city also generates a lot of waste heat due to human activities that add to the natural heat, such as using air conditioners.

This extra heat should dissipate after sunset, but the city fails to cool down due to pollution and continuing generation of waste heat, leading to warmer conditions compared to rural areas.

The CSE study looked into the temperature and humidity data collected by the real-time air quality monitoring network and found massive variations in temperature within the cities.

In terms of absolute air temperature, Hyderabad, with a 7.1°C variation, had the most pronounced heat islands, while Kolkata, with just 1.3°C, had the least pronounced ones. Delhi had a 6.2°C variation, and Mumbai’s was 5.5°C.

From a heat index perspective, Mumbai leads the group with a 17.3°C. “From the land surface temperature perspective, it is Delhi in the lead with a 24.6°C variation,” the analysis said.

The difference among the cities can be explained by the environmental difference in the nature of the heat in their regions, as well as the differences in their topography and land use patterns. But the fact that all four cities show significant variations in their intra-city temperatures (in all three forms) is strong evidence of urban heat island problems within the cities, it said.

The heat index that accounts for both temperature and humidity shows Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad more stressed than Delhi this summer. Even though the seasonal average maximum air temperature in Delhi has been 1.5-2.8°C higher than the other three metros, Kolkata was significantly hotter in terms of the heat index.

The analysis said that monsoon is hotter than the pre-monsoon period, while winter and post-monsoon seasons are warming up faster. At an all-India level, the monsoon season — June, July, August and September, as per IMD classification — has been 0.3-0.4°C hotter than pre-monsoon (or summer),” CSE said and added, “What’s more? It is getting hotter with time!”

The decade’s average temperatures for the pre-monsoon or summer period are now 0.49% hotter than the long-term normal (1951-80 baseline). “This is a significant increase, but it pales in front of the increase noted among the decadal average temperatures for the other three seasons. The post-monsoon period — October, November and December as per IMD classification — is hotter by 0.73%. Similarly, the winter — January and February as per IMD classification — has been warmer by 0.68°C, and the monsoon by 0.58°C,” the CSE analysis said.


The above article has been published from a wire agency with minimal modifications to the headline and text.