SL -Hot as Ever

SL -Hot as Ever

As an oppressive heat wave blankets Asia, Sri Lanka finds itself issuing a flurry of heat warnings to its citizens, grappling with temperatures soaring far beyond the seasonal norm, exacerbated by stifling humidity levels that pose significant health risks, even during the night.

In April, typically the hottest month in Sri Lanka, the sun’s direct alignment over the island intensifies the heat. This year, however, the situation has escalated dramatically. The Department of Meteorology has issued heat warnings for multiple districts, urging residents to limit exposure to the sweltering conditions, which can have dire health consequences, especially during nighttime.

Shiromani Jayawardena, Deputy Director of the Department of Meteorology, highlights the alarming temperature rise, with daily maximums peaking at 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit). This unprecedented heat, coupled with high humidity levels, poses a grave risk to public health, even during the nighttime hours, when relief from the heat is typically expected

Severe Heat wave

While neighboring South Asian countries are scorched by severe heat waves, Sri Lanka’s insular geography offers some respite. Yet, climate models paint a worrying picture, projecting an uptick in both the frequency and intensity of heat waves post-2030, unless significant mitigation measures are implemented.

Urban areas, notably Sri Lanka’s main cities, bear the brunt of the heat onslaught, exacerbated by the urban heat island effect. Erandathie Lokupitiya, a professor of environmental science at the University of Colombo, explains how urbanization exacerbates heat retention, making cities significantly warmer than rural areas, even during the night.

In response, experts like Jagath Munasinghe, an urban planner at the University of Moratuwa, advocate for strategic urban design interventions to mitigate heat stress. Leveraging natural wind corridors and enhancing green spaces are among the proposed measures aimed at countering the urban heat island effect and fostering cooler, healthier urban environments, providing much-needed relief during hot nights.

However, the impacts of rising temperatures extend beyond terrestrial realms. Arjan Rajasuriya, a coral scientist, warns of the detrimental effects on marine ecosystems, particularly vulnerable coral reefs, which face bleaching and mortality as ocean temperatures soar.

As Sri Lanka grapples with the escalating heat, the call for comprehensive research and proactive measures to mitigate heat stress grows increasingly urgent. Devaka Weerakoon, fauna coordinator for the IUCN Red List, emphasizes the need for concerted efforts to understand and address the multifaceted impacts of climate change across diverse ecosystems.

In the face of escalating temperatures and their cascading effects, the imperative for decisive action to combat climate change looms larger than ever. The plight of Sri Lanka serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for global cooperation and concerted efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and safeguard the well-being of both people and the planet, even during the night.

Link to Original Article:

Related Articles