Nairobi heat: City getting dangerously warmer

Nairobi heat: City getting dangerously warmer

Why Nairobi is getting warmer and how that would kill you

Nairobi heat is becoming dangerous and soon shall be unbearable.

Nairobi is getting warmer as developers turn green spaces into concrete jungles. This is according to an article published in the Business Daily on January 18, 2021 titled: Nairobi Concrete jungle turning city into oven.

Also mosquitos are quickly surging in numbers, and scientists link this to the city’s rising temperatures.

Also read:Masks with valves ineffective in fight against Covid-19

Basically as concretes take over the city, clearing way for buildings, metals, tarmacs and all none-green infrastructures, a lot of sun’s energy is absorbed by these impervious surfaces which they later release back into the atmosphere at night.Owing to this phenomenon which scientists call urban heat-island effect, cities tend to be unbearably warmer, than rural areas surrounding them.

Nairobi heat: City is getting warmer

According to the article, data over Nairobi indicates that average air temperatures increased from 18.8° Celsius (C) in the 1950s to 19.5°C in 2000s.

Being one of the fastest growing cities in the continent, Nairobi’s population, which was about 2 million people a decade ago, now stands at over 4 million, putting intense pressure on the natural environment, says Ms Mwangi, a geospatial engineer and urban planner.

Even so, researchers warn that climate change could exacerbate urban heat-island effect across the world to levels never seen before.

Using a new modeling technique, an international team of researchers observed that world’s cities could averagely warm by as much as 4.4°C by 2100.

Nairobi’s heat-island phenomenon

Nairobi heat: Kenyan scientists Victor Ongoma and Patricia Mwangi observe Nairobi’s heat-island phenomenon will likely become dire given the ongoing environmental modification through construction.

According to a new study published last week in the Nature Climate Change, Prof Lei Zhao and his team notes that hotter cities could be catastrophic for urban public health, which is already suffering from the effects of increasing heat.

World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the number of people exposed to heat waves jumped by 125 million between 2000 and 2016, while extreme heat claimed more than 166,000 lives between 1998 and 2017.

And while at the moment half the world’s population lives in urban areas, that proportion is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2050, according to the new paper authored by Prof Zhao.

Dr Ongoma, a meteorologist and a climate change expert, notes that at certain times of the year, parts of Nairobi experience temperature spikes of up to 4.8°C and are associated with increases in mortality, especially in children and the elderly.

Although the intensity of Nairobi’s heat-island is yet to hit alarming levels of directly causing deaths, Dr Ongoma cautions the ongoing developments could eventually result in major disasters.

He says residents of large slums – such as Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru – are more vulnerable due to population density and housing infrastructure that is characterised by poor ventilation.

The researchers warn that urban heat-island will worsen conditions such as respiratory issues and heart diseases caused by household air pollution in these settlements.

In a bid to ease heat distress, household many turn to electric fans and air conditioners for cooling, further resulting in increased consumption of electricity.

“The increase in demand and consumption of electricity has financial implications at a household level and increases carbon footprint in the atmosphere,” Dr Ongoma notes.

Why Nairobi rising heat could kill you

Also read: How dangerous heat waves can kill

Besides causing thermal discomfort, heat and humidity can be dangerous; resulting even in deaths, writes Prof Camilo Mora who authored a researcher paper on 27 ways heat can kill a person.

When your body detects that it is overheating, it redirects blood from the organs at your core to your skin, thus dissipating more heat into the air around you. (This is why your skin turns red when you’re hot.) In extreme heat, this can spiral out of control, resulting in ischemia, or critically low flow of blood to the organs.

This can damage crucial organs like the brain or heart. In addition, a high body temperature can cause cell death, known as heat cytotoxity. Humidity compounds the risk of overheating and organ failure, since one can’t sweat as efficiently to cool down.

Extreme heat can harm healthy people, and those with heart or respiratory conditions like asthma are particularly vulnerable. Children are also at particular risk because of the thermodynamics of their bodies; their small size means that they both heat up and cool down faster.

Source: Business Daily

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