A new study by the Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar reveals that urbanization has caused nearly 60% more night-time warming in over 140 major Indian cities than in surrounding rural areas.    

Key Findings of the Report:

Most Affected Cities: Ahmedabad, Jaipur, and Rajkot have the highest urban heat effect. 

  • Delhi-NCR and Pune ranked fourth and fifth in terms of night-time warming impact.  

The Urban Heat Island Effect: Urbanisation contributes to the urban heat island (UHI) effect, where concrete and asphalt surfaces used in urban area absorb heat during the day and release it at night, increasing night-time temperatures. This phenomenon impacts other climate aspects, such as rainfall and pollution.

Mean Urban Effects:

  • Urban Temperature Increase: Across the studied cities, urban areas experienced an average temperature rise of 0.2°C per decade.
  • Contribution of Urbanisation: Urbanisation accounted for 37.73% of the total urban warming. This effect led to nearly a 60% greater temperature increase in urban areas compared to non-urban areas.

Regional Variations:

  • Pronounced Night-Time Warming: Cities in the northwestern, northeastern, and southern regions of India exhibited a more pronounced increase in night-time temperatures than other regions.
  • Urbanisation Impact: The contribution of urbanisation to night-time warming was particularly higher in eastern and central cities, where there is rapid development and urban expansion.

Overall Temperature Trends:

  • Urban Night-Time Warming: Almost all cities in the study showed rising night-time surface temperatures, with an average increase of 0.53°C per decade.
  • Nationwide Temperature Increase: The overall temperature trend indicated that most of India experienced an average temperature increase of 0.26°C per decade during the study period, affecting both urban and non-urban areas.

About the Urbanisation

  • Urbanization refers to the movement of people from rural areas to urban centres. 
  • This process involves not only the population shift itself but also the decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas and the ways societies adapt to these changes. 
  • The 2011 Census reported that 31.2% of India’s total population lived in urban areas. This figure is expected to rise to around 40% by 2030.
  • As per the World Resources Institute (WRI) India Ross Centre, Presently, about 36% of India’s population resides in urban areas. This urban population is expected to double by 2050.

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