Discovered to be a huge contributor to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in Singapore is the reliance on air-conditioners within housing blocks and office buildings as these effectively end up ejecting hot plumes that heat up the surroundings.
The said aircons and the heat generated from human activities and are trapped by urban surfaces such as buildings and roads are what is causing Singapore to be twice hotter than other countries in the world, as explained by Prof. Matthias Roth of the department of geography at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Thus, the recent spells of hot weather that Singaporeans have been experiencing may not be just temporary heat waves. The island is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world – at 0.25 degrees Celsius per decade – according to the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).
What is more problematic is the fact that Singapore’s maximum daily temperatures could reach 35 to 37 deg C by year 2100, if carbon emissions continue to rise at the same rate, Dr. Muhammad Eeqmal Hassim warned, a senior research scientist with the MSS Centre for Climate Research Singapore.
Other countries have already experienced hotter temperatures than what Singapore is experiencing at present, however, humidity in Singapore is high all year round, which can be tough for all Singaporeans and could lead to potentially lethal situations.
In a statement, the doctor said that when temperature and humidity get high enough, people’s bodies struggle to cope, so much so that people get higher heat stress levels which can actually be quite deadly for everyone.
Describing the effect of a stack of air-conditioner units, Professor Gerhard Schmitt – head of a research team called “Cooling Singapore” at the Singapore-ETH Centre was quoted as saying, “The bottom one is ejecting heat to the outside, but this heat is then sucked in by the next one, and the next one and the next. The higher you go, the higher the temperature that comes out. The researcher also added that what it means is that the household on top could end up paying higher electricity bills for running the air-con.
So, what are the risks if Singapore continues to heat up? When humidity is high, it would mean perspiration would not evaporate as quickly. The body then has to work harder to stay cool, leading to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. When the body is unable to sufficiently dissipate the heat, it could lead to organ damage and death.