Perak moves to reduce urban heat


By IVAN LOHRENA LIM

Observing phenomena: Prof Yusri at his research station in Teluk Bahang to track environmental changes in Penang.

IPOH: The ongoing Perak Bumi Lestari programme is one of the state government’s initiatives aimed at lowering the urban heat effect, says the Mentri Besar.

Datuk Saarani Mohamad said among the aims of the programme was to plant one million trees in the state by 2030.

“We hope to achieve a balance and counter the heat.

“The trees being planted now may not have much impact and hopefully we can feel cooler a few years later,” he said after attending a gotong-royong at the Jalan Pasir Puteh flats here yesterday.

“Our target is one million trees but the more, the better,” he added.

A recent Think City study has found that the peak temperature in Kuala Lumpur; Bayan Lepas and George Town; Johor Baru; and Ipoh has increased by between 1.64°C and 6.75°C from November 1998 to March 2019.

Ipoh has registered the highest increase in temperature at 6.75°C during the comparison period.

Saarani said the increase in temperature was unavoidable due to development.

“We need to fell trees for development and this caused leaves, a natural coolant, to lessen and a rise in temperature,” he said.

“The materials we used for our buildings now, including bricks, do not absorb heat unlike the attap or wood we used last time.”

He also said the rise in temperature was not only occurring in Malaysia but throughout the globe.

“With these changes in temperature, it is only wise to avoid activities like playing football or flying kites in the afternoon as it could affect our health,” he said.

In George Town, atmospheric physicist Assoc Prof Dr Yusri Yusup from Universiti Sains Malaysia said it was a basic trend for temperatures to spike, especially during the northeast monsoon, within the northern region.

He said despite temperature spikes, there was no cause for concern as the fluctuations in temperature were within the normal range.

Prof Yusri, who has been conducting observations and studies at a weather station set up at Aling Bay in Teluk Bahang here since 2015, said temperature fluctuations were normal and that the patterns observed were within a threshold.

“We may feel like some months are hotter than the others but if we look at the data, the temperature spikes during this time of each year are within a certain threshold.

In Penang, he said some areas might feel drier and warmer depending on the locality,” he said.

“As Penang is surrounded by the ocean, areas near the coast experience milder spikes as tropical coasts would be buffered by the ocean.

“This is in contrast to urban areas. On land, there is no buffer so there might be a higher spike in temperature.

“But all these are understandable changes, because land surface and vegetation will change the local temperature in an area.

“This is especially true in urban areas where surfaces comprise mostly of tar roads and concrete,” he said yesterday.

Prof Yusri said based on his observations, there is nothing surprising about the temperature spikes thus far.

“While the weather may be dry and hot now, the temperature spikes observed are within the same value. Within our data, we do acknowledge that spike but it is still within normal range.

“This is because we are caught in the northeast monsoon which tends to be dry and hot.

“In coming weeks, we can expect cooler temperatures as there will be more rain,” he added.

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