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Reduction in human activity can enhance the urban heat island: Insights from the COVID-19 lockdown
T.C. Chakraborty, , X. Lee
Published in IOP Publishing Ltd
Volume: 16
Issue: 5
The COVID-19 lockdowns drastically reduced human activity, emulating a controlled experiment on human-land-atmosphere coupling. Here, using a fusion of satellite and reanalysis products, we examine this coupling through changes in the surface energy budget during the lockdown (1 April to 15 May 2020) in the Indo-Gangetic Basin, one of the world's most populated and polluted regions. During the lockdown, the reduction (>10%) in columnar air pollution compared to a five year baseline, expected to increase incoming solar radiation, was counteracted by a ∼30% enhancement in cloud cover, causing little change in available energy at the surface. More importantly, the delay in winter crop harvesting during the lockdown increased surface vegetation cover, causing almost half the regional cooling via evapotranspiration. Since this cooling was higher for rural areas, the daytime surface urban heat island (SUHI) intensity increased (by 0.20-0.41 K) during a period of reduced human activity. Our study provides strong observational evidence of the influence of agricultural activity on rural climate in this region and its indirect impact on the SUHI intensity. © 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.
About the journal
JournalData powered by TypesetEnvironmental Research Letters
PublisherData powered by TypesetIOP Publishing Ltd