Our Hot Future Is Here

Parks and trees can keep cities cool and help manage the effects of climate change; additional challenges specific for Central European cities, however, might be of a technical nature. Simply, our cities are not as rich as cities in Western Europe!

Our Hot Future Is Here

“With the urban heat island effect added to the temperature rise caused by a warming climate as well as the steady growth of urban populations, it is clear that cities are among the most vulnerable areas to the climate crisis.”

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Article by Rosmarie de Wit

Vienna, June 27th 2019, 2 am. The sound of a passing truck is deafening in the silence of the night. Closing the window is not an option, however. The light breeze is badly needed as even without the covers it is too hot to sleep. After a 35°C day in the middle of a heat wave, the nighttime retains its warmth, with temperatures never dropping below 26°C. Waiting for sleep to come, thoughts float to the next day in the office. How unproductive this day will be!

Although summer time may sound like ice cream, swimming, and long evenings outside with friends, the higher temperatures are putting a strain on our health. Threats such as avalanches may sound a lot more catastrophic; however, it is actually heat waves that are among the most dangerous natural hazards. Although their effects are often not as immediately obvious as that of for example floods or storm, heat waves can be incredibly destructive.

The United Nations Environmental Programme stated that the 2003 European heat wave was the worst natural disaster in the last 50 years in Europe, claiming over 30,000 casualties. Long stretches of heat are especially problematic for very young children and the elderly, as well as people with already existing health issues. Even for fit adults, extended periods of high temperatures can result in fatigue and a loss of produc-tivity. Obviously, enduring more extreme highs during the day can be exhausting, yet, it is the high nighttime temperatures which prevent our bodies from recovering.

FAMILIAR ASSESSMENTS

Of course, heat waves are nothing new; nevertheless, our world is warming up. In its last assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the UN body dedicated to providing an objective overview of the state of the climate as well as the causes and effects of climate change – reported that global temperatures have risen by 0.85°C since the 1880s. This may not sound quite so dramatic, but the effects are a lot more diverse than only an increase in mean temperature.

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With the urban heat island effect added to the temperature rise caused by a warming climate as well as the steady growth of urban populations, it is clear that cities are among the most vulnerable areas to the climate crisis.

This raises the question: what can we do to keep our cities appealing and livable?

 

YOU MAY READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE (page 12-17)

 

Rosmarie de Wit – after obtaining her PhD in atmos-pheric physics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, de Wit worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the USA. Returning “to Earth”, she joined the Austrian meteorological service ZAMG in 2016, where she is part of the urban modeling team.

Adopted text from Magazyn Miasta / Cities Magazine vol. 3

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