Understanding Extreme Urban Heat – Launch of the Digital Earth Partnership Technology Award
|Background: Climate change is driving rising temperatures in East Asian cities, the effects of which are being compounded by the urban heat island effect that is associated with the modification of land surfaces due to urbanization. And these rising urban temperatures threaten to have adverse impacts on the productivity, inclusion, and livability of the region’s cities. Experts predict mean annual temperatures in East Asia will increase by up to 3.8 °C by the century’s end. Some parts of the region may see much greater increases. In the best-case scenario, Myanmar and Thailand can expect 80-90 days per year with temperatures over 35 °C by 2050, an increase of roughly 20 days from today. This increase in temperature will be much worse in cities where the Urban Heat Island Effect could raise temperatures by a further 7 °C. Urban heat is strongly corelated with reduced productivity, poorer education and health outcomes, and more crime. This is especially true for low income countries as the UHI effect disproportionately impacts poor or otherwise excluded communities. Objectives: To provide for better measurement of urban temperatures and understanding of its impacts on key urban development outcomes, Singapore Space & Technology Limited and the World Bank Group, with financial support from the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), are launching the “Digital Earth Partnership Technology Award”. This award aims to source for space tech organisations to utilise remote sensing satellite technology to acquire and process satellite data to better measure temperatures in East Asian cities and analyse the strength of the UHI effect, which will also include ground-truthing work to help verify the satellite-based estimates for a select number of East Asian cities: Jakarta (IDN), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Manila (Philippines), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and Vietiane (Lao PDR). To launch the award, this session will bring together speakers from industry, the World Bank and Singapore Space & Technology to discuss, from their different perspectives, the challenges posed by rising urban temperatures, strategies that are being adopted to deal with these challenges, and how, by leveraging advances in space technology, the award can contribute to more evidence-based policy and decision-making when it comes to both mitigating and adapting to the impacts of extreme urban heat.