In the midst of one of the worst heatwaves experienced by the capital, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA has recently shared an image of ‘heat islands’ identified in and around Delhi.
Cities are often markedly warmer than the countryside, and that's critical in a heat wave. This image, taken by @NASA's ECOSTRESS instrument on the @Space_Station, shows "heat islands" in and near Delhi, India, with nighttime temps up to 102° F (40° hotter than nearby fields). pic.twitter.com/yjzkdjDYev— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) May 12, 2022
According to the space agency, their satellite ground temperature measuring instrument Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiation Experiment On Space Station (ECOSTRESS) took the image that mapped the ‘heat islands’. The ECOSTRESS also recorded that the temperature in Delhi’s urban ‘heat islands’ and neighbouring villages reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) while surrounding areas were nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 5 degrees Celsius) colder. The image, taken around midnight of May 5, covers an area of 12,350 sqkm. The ‘heat islands’ are visible in the image as red spots.
What are heat islands?
Urban heat islands occur when a city experiences much higher temperatures than the rural areas surrounding it. This is usually because of the increased percentage of human activities in cities, as compared to the rural areas, and the built environment that contains elements like asphalt, steel, and brick. These ‘heat islands’ are one of the easiest ways to study how human impact is changing the planet.
What does this data indicate?
NASA claims that this means that city dwellers are experiencing considerably higher temperatures than the average temperature reported for their regions. It also indicates that even at night, the temperature didn’t go down as it usually does.
The important thing to note is that the unrelenting heatwave is dangerous as it has already resulted in multiple deaths, fires, and increased air pollution.
So, remember to stay indoors as much as possible and keep yourself hydrated.