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Urban Heat Islands and Climate


Global warming, also known as climate change, is caused by a blanket of pollution that traps heat around the earth. This pollution comes from cars, factories, homes, and power plants that burn fossil fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas, and gasoline. Global warming pollution knows no boundaries and climate change is really the sum of all pollution combined with natural changes in climate. The solutions may not be immediate and involve complex political, social, and economic components and also the research point of view to better understand the implications of the pollution we are creating.

Urban air quality is closely related to climate change scenarios faced in the past few decades due to migration towards cities, changing land use patterns, deforestation, industrialization, over-utilization of resources, technological advancement impacting directly the air, water and land parameters of urban areas. As a result of emissions from urban areas climate is impacted which increases the risk, frequency, and intensity of certain extreme events like intense heat waves, flooding from intense precipitation and coastal storm surges, and disease incidence related to temperature and precipitation changes .

As per WHO data there are about 4.2 million deaths every year as a result of ambient air pollution making it a matter of concern. Research also shows the impacts of air pollution on climate change due to the emission of GHGs into the atmosphere causing warming of Earth's surface. Several studies indicate that the impact of urban air pollution on the burden of disease in the cities of the world is large, but is likely to be an underestimate of the actual burden,pollutants like SOx, NOx, Ozone, trace gases etc. are one of major reasons of health related issues in humans.

Urban heat island is an outcome of ambient air pollution and climate change. Warming climate will increase already higher temperatures in heat island areas and the cooling strategies to reduce heat islands helping communities adapt to impacts of climate change will also increase the emission of GHGs in turn making the urban settlement inhabitable in due course of time. Urban climatic conditions differ from the climate of its rural surroundings as a result of Heat island effect. Atmospheric warming associated with climate change has the potential to increase ground-level ozone that is a harmful air pollutant in many regions, presenting challenges for compliance with the ozone standards in the future and pose a serious health risk to urban populations.

Studies directed towards the impacts of air quality on climate change are extensively focused on Particulate matter ignoring the other pollutants like trace gases which are also responsible in air pollution and climate change scenarios. In order to get a clear picture of all the background constituents and precursors researches need to be done in the field of urban air quality improvement and climate change taking into account the minor constituents as well so that the future Earth remains habitable as it was a few decades back.

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