Heatwaves Pummel Cities, But Relief Rains Cause New Problems

Global warming is turning up the heatwaves, literally. A new study reveals a disturbing trend: scorching days in major capitals are skyrocketing.

Over 52% increase! That’s the alarming rise in the number of days exceeding 35°C (95°F) in 20 of the world’s biggest capitals over the past 30 years. Cities like Delhi, Jakarta, and Buenos Aires are feeling the brunt of this heat surge.

The culprit? Climate change. Asphalt and buildings trap heat, turning these urban centers into sweltering cauldrons.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) analyzed temperature data from 2014 to 2023. Their findings are stark: nearly 6,500 days saw at least one of these 20 capitals hit 35°C or higher.

This compares to just 4,755 such days in the decade from 1994 to 2003.

The heat isn’t evenly distributed, warns IIED researcher. Certain neighborhoods and commercial districts experience pockets of extreme heat due to inequality and urban design choices for buildings and infrastructure.

2024 has already seen deadly heatwaves grip cities like Delhi, Dhaka, and Manila. These scorching stretches have caused heat-related deaths and school closures.

Delhi, for instance, endured its worst heatwave in 74 years. From May 14th to June 21st, the city saw a grueling 39 consecutive days with highs at or above 40°C (104°F).

But wait, there’s more! Delhi residents who just escaped the searing heat now face a different kind of extreme weather: record-breaking rainfall.

The city received an unprecedented amount of rain in just 24 hours, surpassing its average for the entire month of June. This downpour caused a fatal airport roof collapse, disrupted flights, and brought the city to a standstill with flooded streets and traffic jams.

The irony is stark. Delhi hasn’t seen this much rain in a June month in at least 15 years!

These weather extremes highlight the dangers of climate change. From scorching heatwaves to devastating floods, cities are on the frontline of a changing climate. We need urgent action to mitigate climate change and adapt our cities to this new reality.

Reference- Reuters Article, The Hindu, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) , The Business Standard