The British-built satellite HOTSAT-1, a 'flying thermometer', has captured thermal images of the sun-baked venue for the COP28 summit in Dubai, emphasizing the stark contrast between urban and vegetated areas. These images, released exclusively to Sky News, reveal the 'urban heat island' effect, a growing concern for global climate change.
A Stark Contrast: Red Roads and Blue Parks
The images depict the roads and concrete walkways around the COP28 complex as bright red, indicating high heat absorption from the sun. In stark contrast, vegetation in a nearby park is marked blue, reflecting cooler temperatures. This phenomenon, known as the 'urban heat island' effect, is when hard surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt, absorb heat during the day and release it slowly at night, keeping urban areas warmer than rural zones.
More Than Just Dubai: A Global Concern
Additional thermal images from HOTSAT-1 show similar trends in other parts of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including Abu Dhabi International Airport and the upscale Al Bateen area. Here too, built-up regions and concrete surfaces glow red, while cooler zones are marked in blue. The 'urban heat island' effect is not just a concern for Dubai or the UAE, but a global issue that can exacerbate the impacts of heatwaves, leading to increased death rates.
The Role of Vegetation in Mitigating Heat
The contrasting images underscore the crucial role vegetation plays in mitigating heat absorption. The cooler, blue-marked park in the midst of red-marked urban areas highlights the need for increased vegetation in cities. Anthony Baker, co-founder of SatVu, which operates HOTSAT-1, has emphasized that these images should serve as a reminder of our collective responsibility to combat climate change through informed decisions and sustainable actions.