SINGAPORE: Singapore plans to deploy a network of climate sensors across the country, as part of efforts to mitigate the effect of a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect.
Delivering her speech during the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 4), Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said the move would be one of the three mitigation strategies to tackle the issue.
She also noted that the deployment of these sensors would allow Singapore to measure, gather data and close “knowledge gaps” on the urban heat island effect.
The climate sensors will collect data on ambient temperature, relative humidity and wind speeds, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) in a press release.
As part of that network, the National Parks Board will deploy 40 environmental sensors in western Singapore, said URA and MSE.
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The data collected will be used to validate two computational models simulating Singapore’s climate.
These are the Singapore Variable Resolution model, which can accurately model future climatic scenarios at islandwide resolutions, as well as the Integrated Environmental Modeller, which can simulate wind flow through a specific planning area and identify where solar heat is more likely to build up.
These climate models - along with other models simulating variables such as energy consumption and transport use - will be integrated into a “digital twin” of Singapore as part of a Cooling Singapore 2.0 research project.
“The digital twin will holistically simulate Singapore’s urban climate, and will allow policymakers to assess the effectiveness of various mitigation strategies,” said the press release.
Examples of measures that are being implemented include increasing greenery provision in existing built-up areas and electrifying Singapore’s vehicle fleet.
A COMPOUNDING EFFECT
The urban heat island effect is a phenomenon where urban areas that are more built-up and densely populated are warmer than rural areas. This happens because of the emitting of waste heat from sources such as cars and factories. Buildings also trap heat during the day, which then dissipates at night.
Ms Fu noted that global warming and rising temperatures are compounded by the urban heat island effect.
“When the temperature rises, we turn up air-conditioners, which in turn generate more heat in the surroundings, resulting in a vicious cycle. Built-up areas such as the CBD can be more than 3 degree Celsius hotter than our parks,” she said.
“High temperatures can be uncomfortable for our daily activities, or increasing the risk of heat injuries at the workplace, sports and military training.”
The Centre for Climate Research Singapore has projected that Singapore’s maximum daily temperature could reach 35 to 37 degrees Celsius by 2100, should carbon emissions continue to rise at the same rate.
Since 2019, an inter-agency working group led by MSE and the URA has been working to implement initiatives to mitigate the urban heat island effect in Singapore.
READ: Hot in the city: Rising night temperatures a potentially major health issue in Asian metropolises
In addition to the network of climate sensors, Singapore will develop and implement an urban heat island mitigation action plan, said Ms Fu.
This will include piloting the use of cool materials, increasing urban greenery and reducing heat emissions through district cooling.
The joint release noted that studies have shown that cool materials on buildings absorb less heat, resulting in temperature decreases of up to 1.6 degrees Celsius for surrounding air temperature, and 5.6 degrees Celsius for wall surface temperatures.
JTC and the Building and Construction Authority have already tested the use of cool materials in industrial buildings and educational institutions.
In the future, the Government is looking to partner interested building owners and cool material suppliers to conduct pilots in other building and infrastructural archetypes. These include transport infrastructure, residential districts and commercial buildings.
Beyond these efforts, individuals can also play their part to keep Singapore cool, said URA and MSE. For one, this can be done by increasing temperature settings on air-conditioners in rooms, they said.
“With collective effort from the Government, academia, private sector and individuals, we can ‘Keep Singapore Cool’ and improve the level of thermal comfort for our community,” said the release.