Heat and drought in small Overijssel towns
It is not only the big cities that suffer under heat and drought. Small towns may suffer just as much, as a study commissioned by the province of Overijssel has shown.
The province has explored this because the four Spatial Adaptation Working Regions in Overijssel wanted to know more about heat stress and drought. One conclusion of the study was that urban heat island effects are also present in small towns. These were the research questions:
- To what degree are small towns and the rural areas of Overijssel affected by heat and heat stress?
- To what degree are the small towns of Overijssel affected by drought?
- What other “extremes” ensuing from climate change also merit attention?
- What measures are feasible in relation to heat and drought?
- How effective are the specified measures in combating heat stress and drought?
What are the conclusions?
Because of its comprehensive basis, the study produced quite diverse conclusions. Some of the main conclusions:
- Heat island effects also occur in small towns. A heat island is a spot where the temperature is much higher than in the surrounding area. In many cases, such spots will feature many buildings with little greenery and shade. Heat islands frequently occur in cities, but this study has shown that they also occur in large and small towns.
- The heat island effect can be measured on the basis of surface temperature or on the basis of air temperature. Measuring on the basis of surface temperature shows that heat islands are more likely to occur on large surfaces with lots of paving, such as car parks and industrial estates. This is manifest in both large and small towns.
- Surface temperatures may also rise sharply in fields and meadows. This occurs particularly when plants have been scorched or shortly after they have been harvested.
How has the study been conducted?
The study has been conducted in several ways:
- The researchers have given an overview of the research that they have conducted on this subject in the Netherlands and abroad;
- They have conducted interviews with government bodies and businesses (among which cattle farmers and a nursing home) in Overijssel, and with knowledgeinstitutes;
- They have used meteorological measurements and satellite images of surface temperatures in the summer of 2018.
Why is more research needed?
Among other things, the researchers are recommending that further research be conducted into the following issues:
- What are the heat island effects in neighbourhoods and streets? And what is the situation in terms of perceived temperatures in streets and in public places where many people gather?
- What is the situation in terms of perceived temperatures and humidity in cow sheds and pig houses? Do high temperatures and high humidity cause heat stress among animals? Does this differ per species?
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