Investigating the relationship between human activity and the urban heat island effect in Melbourne and four other international cities impacted by COVID-19

Cheuk Yin wai, Nitin Muttil, Muhammad Atiq Ur Rehman Tariq , Prudvireddy Paresi, Raphael Chukwuka Nnachi , Anne W. M. Ng (Corresponding Author)

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Abstract

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times, even before the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. One of the main contributors to climate change is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are mostly caused by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. As the lockdown due to the pandemic has minimised human activity in major cities, GHG emissions have been reduced. This, in turn, is expected to lead to a reduction in the urban heat island (UHI) effect in the cities. The aim of this paper is to understand the relationship between human activity and the UHI intensity and to provide recommendations towards developing a sustainable approach to minimise the UHI effect and improve urban resilience. In this study, historical records of the monthly mean of daily maximum surface air temperatures collected from official weather stations in Melbourne, New York City, Tokyo, Dublin, and Oslo were used to estimate the UHI intensity in these cities. The results showed that factors such as global climate and geographic features could dominate the overall temperature. However, a direct relationship between COVID-19 lockdown timelines and the UHI intensity was observed, which suggests that a reduction in human activity can diminish the UHI intensity. As lockdowns due to COVID-19 are only temporary events, this study also provides recommendations to urban planners towards long-term measures to mitigate the UHI effect, which can be implemented when human activity returns to normal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number378
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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