Urbanisation drives significant night-time temperature rise in Indian cities, study finds

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Representational Image. (Image by Christop from Pixabay

A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar reveals that urbanisation is significantly increasing night-time temperatures across over 140 major Indian cities. The research found that temperatures in urban areas rose 60 per cent more at night compared to their rural counterparts, primarily due to the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Cities like Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Rajkot experienced the highest temperature increases, while Delhi-NCR and Pune also saw substantial changes.

Urban heat island effect

The urban heat island effect occurs when city structures, particularly those made of concrete and asphalt, absorb heat during the day and release it slowly at night. This process not only elevates night-time temperatures but also alters local climate patterns, affecting rainfall distribution and increasing pollution levels.

Study highlights

The study aimed to investigate the impact of urbanisation on temperature changes over the past two decades (2000–2020). It concluded that urbanisation contributed to an average temperature increase of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade, accounting for approximately 37.73 per cent of the overall urban heat increase. This comprehensive analysis showed that urban areas are warming nearly twice as fast as rural regions.

Regional variations in temperature rise

The study highlighted that night-time temperature increases were more pronounced in cities located in the northwest, northeast and southern parts of India. Conversely, the effects of urbanisation were more significant in the rapidly developing eastern and central regions. These regional differences suggest that urban planning and climate resilience strategies should be tailored to address the specific needs and developmental stages of each area.

By understanding and mitigating the urban heat island effect, cities can better prepare for the challenges posed by climate change and ensure a more sustainable and livable environment for their residents.

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