Urban heat index in Davao City ‘above normal’

The Sto. Nino Shrine grounds in Matina, Davao City, one of the cooler spots in the city. MindaNews file photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 March) – The urban heat index in Davao City is already “above normal,” Davao City-based environment group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) Inc. said.

IDIS program coordinator Lemuel Lloyd Manalo told MindaNews that the recent heat index of 400 Celsius recorded by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration last March 9 was already above normal based on the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) heat scale.

This is a significant increase from the reported average temperatures of 260C in 2016, 27.50C in 2018, and 32.50C in 2019 based on the record of the Weather Monitoring Station at the Davao International Airport, he noted.

Based on the UTCI heat scale, he said the 400C indicates a “very strong heat stress” and above 500C, an “extreme heat stress,” noting that the city’s “ambient temperature has been increasing since 2014, especially during the dry season.”

According to the Climate Change Service, the UTCI is a “bioclimatic index for describing the physiological comfort of the human body under specific meteorological conditions. It takes into account not just the ambient temperature but also other variables like humidity, wind and radiation, all factors significantly affecting our physiological reaction to the surrounding environment.”

Manalo said the increasing heat index is attributed to the global warming crisis.

He added that rising local temperature is also associated with the influx of population and rapid development of more urbanized areas.

He said the city’s fully urbanized areas are projected to increase from 4,031 hectares in 2015 to 16,398 hectares in 2045.

Manalo said the key to addressing the rise in urban heat index includes nature-based solutions and low-impact development.

“Several government plans and policies have already been put in place, such as the protection of urban trees and remaining forest patches and tree-line canopy avenues, increase of parks, green spaces, landscaping and permeable surfaces,” he said.

With the temperature rise, he said the implementation of these programs is urgently needed.

He said more public covered walkways and waiting sheds must be incorporated into the infrastructure development plans.

“Davao City’s Green Building ordinance should also incorporate and require sufficient ventilation and natural airflow use in building designs,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)