By Christian Siderius, Alterra-Wageningen University and Research Centre (Alterra-WUR)
Extreme heat conditions in South Asia are making the headlines for the second year in a row (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/20/india-records-its-hottest-day-ever-as-temperature-hits-51c-thats-1238f?). The HI-AWARE project is currently studying this extreme heat and ways to cope with it in three major cities in South Asia; Delhi in India, Faisalabad in Pakistan and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
As part of the measurement campaign, we have three urban weather stations installed. Over the past few days, we have been recording high temperatures in all three cities. We also installed small temperature sensors in more than 150 houses in low-income neighbourhoods, where indoor temperatures can be even higher than at outdoor locations, especially during the night. Continuous exposure to high temperatures can lead to serious health issues and lower productivity as the human body cannot recuperate, but precise thresholds and related health impacts are still unknown and likely location-specific.
Last but not least, we have three mobile weather stations, mounted on cars, one in each city to look at the impacts of canals, vegetation and building density, for example, on thermal comfort. Water from rivers and streams is essential to create liveable cities and to cope with heat, but its availability is increasingly under stress during the summer months. Over the course of this summer, we hope to get a better understanding of the exposure of poor people to extreme and prolonged heat, and affordable ways to cope with it (for a short photo-story: http://www.hi-aware.org/index.php?id=115).