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Indian cities 60% warmer due to urbanisation

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VIZAG, JUNE 14: Indian cities are at a critical juncture, facing the compounding threats of climate change and urbanisation. A recent study highlighted that urbanisation alone resulted in a 60% enhancement in warming across Indian cities, with the most significant impact observed in eastern Tier-II cities. The study shows that urban areas in India are experiencing warming at nearly twice the rate of the surrounding non-urban regions, driven by the effects of urbanisation combined with regional climate change.
The study, ‘Urbanisation and regional climate change-linked warming of Indian cities’, which analysed nighttime land surface temperature (NLST) data from 2003 to 2020, used satellite data to compare the warming trends in urban areas with surrounding non-urban areas. The researchers found that the average warming rate in Indian cities was 0.53°C per decade, almost double the warming rate of the surrounding regions, which was 0.26°C per decade. This indicates a significant urbanisation-driven component of the warming in cities.
The urbanisation effect, which refers to the additional warming due to local urban changes, accounted for an average increase of 0.2°C per decade. This means that urban areas experienced approximately 37.73% more warming due to urbanisation compared to non-urban areas. The study found that the urban contribution to warming was higher in cities in the eastern and central regions of India.
The study ranked 141 cities based on the contribution of urbanisation to warming. Cities like Jamshedpur, Raipur, Patna, Indore, Bhilai, Aurangabad, Pune, Dhanbad, Ludhiana, and
Vadodara had urbanisation contributing to more than 50% of the overall warming. In Jamshedpur, urbanisation was responsible for 100% of the observed warming.
The top 10 cities with the highest urban contribution to warming were Pune, Raipur, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Patna, Nashik, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Bengaluru and Vadodara. These findings highlight the need for targeted urban planning and climate action strategies tailored to the specific needs of each city.
“Existing national urban missions like the National Mission for Sustainable Habitat (NMSH), Smart Cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) primarily focus on social and economic development. However, comprehensive strategies addressing the urban thermal environment are essential to achieving the sustainable development goal of making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”, the researchers noted.
With India’s urban population projected to double by 2050, reaching over 800 million, and the country expected to be the fastest-growing major economy, substantial infrastructure development will be necessary. This growth will further impact local and regional climates due to increased emissions and environmental changes.
The study suggested that effective urban planning can help mitigate urbanisation-driven warming, especially in developing cities that still have untapped natural resources. Incorporating blue-green infrastructure, such as parks and water bodies, can provide thermal comfort and reduce heat accumulation.
(Courtesy: TNIE)