Monday, November 12, 2012

Climate change poses grave threat to Indian cities

Chinmayi Shalya in the Times of India: Climate change and reckless development are leaving Mumbai increasingly vulnerable to the elements. A news report on an ongoing climate study places India's financial capital sixth in a list of 20 port cities worldwide at risk from severe storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds and rising seas. By 2070, according to the study, an estimated 11.4 million people and assets worth $1.3 trillion would be at peril in Mumbai due to climatic extremes.

The in-progress study, by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reveals that many of the susceptible port cities are in Asia. In the news report's list-ranked by assets at risk-eight among the top 10 fall in the world's most populous continent.

Kolkata comes in the fourth spot while Guangzhou takes in second. In the City of Joy, 14 million citizens and assets worth $2 trillion will be at peril by 2070, the study predicts.

Experts studying climate change assert that rampant concretization in global cities is not only leading to fluctuations in temperatures worldwide but also causing shifts in microclimates. These changes together, they say, are likely to build up into disastrous scenarios by 2070, effecting excessive rainfall. In cities like Mumbai, where poor urban planning has left little space for water to get absorbed into the ground, the impact may be severe.

"A big portion of Mumbai is concretized and this is increasing. Solar radiation is absorbed by concrete, triggering urban heat island effect, where temperature within the city rises. The circulation of the warm air from the city with cooler air currents from less urbanized areas can cause extreme weather conditions," says Subimal Ghosh, an associate professor in the civil engineering department of IIT-Bombay....

Imperial Towers in Mumbai, shot by Satish Krishnamurthy, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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