Urban Heat Islands


Urban Heat Islands

Urban Heat Islands ,Recently, a study to place called “Anthropogenic forces exacerbating the urban heat islands in India” by IIT Kharagpur.

It has drawn attention to phenomena of recent times known as Urban Heat Islands.

The study drew attention towards the temperature differences between urban areas and surrounding suburbs and rural areas.

According to its analysis, across all seasons in 44 major cities for a long time period between 2001 to 2017 urban daytime temperatures were higher by up to 2 degree Celsius for the majority of cities.

Analysis was done on satellite data of monsoon and post monsoon periods.

So what is an urban heat Island (UHI)?

UHI is a metropolitan region or area which is warmer than its surrounding suburban or rural areas. This phenomena takes place due to-

  1. Urban infrastructure such as Asphalt roads, buildings, roofs of motor, concrete which have more heat absorbing and less reflective capacities.
  2. Population and human activities- use of large numbers of air conditioners, cars and other heat releasing gadgets.
  3. Absence of greenery- less trees, so less evapotranspiration.


Consequently, UHIs pose health hazards, environmental hazards and other problems –


  1. With already rising average global temperatures in addition to UHIs, severe heat waves have been witnessed in recent years resulting in general discomfort, exhaustion, therefore increased heat-related mortality rates in humans as well as animals.
  2. Rise in the number of insects like ants – known as ectotherms, lizards, etc.
  3. Increased energy consumption due to more use of air conditioners, fans, refrigerators, etc.
  4. Low tourism and recreational activities due to hot outdoors.
  5. surface runoff gets heated due to hot pavements, roads and alter the temperature of water bodies they flow into, thus disturbing aquatic life.
  6. Poor quality air due to greenhouse gas emissions from power plants which burn fossil fuels to fulfill increased energy requirements.


According to world meteorological organisation, the past decade has seen major global heat, with countries like India and even France witnessing unusual heat waves.

So proper mitigation measures are needed so that effects can be made less severe-


  • Planting trees, grasses wherever possible-road dividers, roadsides, hanging pots, etc.
  • Making rooftop gardens which lessens heat through evapotranspiration, making roofs green for cooling effect.
  • Using building materials with less heat absorbing capacity- such as-limestone mixed with asphalt, light coloured roads so that they reflect back heat.
  • Avoid using private vehicles and use public transport more.
  • preserving water bodies such as lakes, ponds to maintain the water cycle to get more rain and ofcourse water harvesting system in every building as well as parks.


Therefore, humans should adopt and inculcate sustainable practices in their lifestyles so as to avoid seeing such phenomenona.

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