Guwahati to become an ‘Urban Heat Island’
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Guwahati to become an ‘Urban Heat Island’

Avishek Sengupta | June 30, 2018 10:46 hrs

GUWAHATI: The real feel of temperature in the city during the summers is growing at a higher rate than other areas in its vicinity despite having the same climatic conditions, a phenomenon that is called ‘Urban Heat Island’ (UHI) syndrome.

First discovered by a British chemist and amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard in 1810, the phenomenon holds more relevance two centuries later when human activity now has increased more with industrialisation, vehicle and air conditioning pollution.

According to a report published by Juri Borbora and Arup Kumar Das named “Sustainable Cities and Societies” in 2014, it was revealed that the temperature imparity of a city and its nearby areas is about 2 degrees due to the UHI affect.

The Borjhar-based Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) has said that the temperature in the city is going to be at an all-time high and is not expected to go down in the next one week.

“It is going to be about 36 to 38 degrees in Kamrup. This is partly because the northeast region is going to get lesser monsoonal rainfall than normal. Also, the city is receiving lesser rainfall because of the pollution here. There is a wide difference between the rainfalls that Borjhar receives and that the Basistha or Fancy Bazar receives,” Sanjay O’Neil Shaw, director of RMC said.

“Greeneries attract the low floating clouds such as cumulus and cirrus clouds. The city, which has a scant green cover, fails to do this,” Shaw added.

However, if the UHI affect is considered, the real feel temperature in the city is as high as 41 to 42 degrees.

“This is mostly due to high carbon footprint in the city due to automobile pollution and the cumulative heat generated by air-conditioners,” Ranjan K Baruah, an environmentalist under the banner of Northeast Dialogue Forum, said.

He further suggested, “The city cannot avoid the problems that might arise due to global warming and other issues, but we can bring the pollution in the city down if we change our lifestyle a bit. 

Instead of purchasing more and more cars, we must also use bicycles like in China and Japan. We should be very judicious in using our air conditioners. And, if we plant a tree in every house, I don’t think green cover will be an issue. With these small steps, the people of Guwahati can help the city avoid the fluctuating climate to some extent.”

According to a report of the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA), the green cover of the city is less than 25 per cent which is less than the UNESCO standard of 33 per cent.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority had, in 2015, conducted a survey to identify the wards in the city with low green cover and had started a project to increase it.  It is not known if the project has been successful in achieving the objective.

Gokul Bhuyan, senior environmental engineer of PCBA, said, “Other indexes of pollution are still on the safe side, But the suspended particles that are emitted from vehicles is rising alarmingly rising in the city. Guwahati already has a high index of such particles due to the sand bars in the riverine areas.”

“The rapid deforestation in the city’s outskirt and the rampant usage of automobiles and air conditioners has raised the city’s carbon footprint. The air conditioners that we use provide cold air inside, but release the hot air into the atmosphere. The automobiles we drive emit carbon monoxide and suspended particle matters which increase the heat index of the city,” Ranjan K Baruah said echoing Bhuyan.

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