Rising temperatures in Bangladesh Causes, Effects, and Solutions -Zaidul Hasan
Bangladesh’s Chuadanga district recorded the highest temperature in the country during the first fifteen days of April 2023, hovering around 40 degrees Celsius. On April 14th, the temperature spiked to 42.2 degrees Celsius, marking a severe heatwave. In response, the Chuadanga District Administration and District Information Office launched a campaign advising everyone to stay indoors unless necessary and recommending lemon juice and saline to stay hydrated.
According to meteorologists, April is the hottest month in Bangladesh due to the vertical rays of the sun, which are closest to the country’s position in orbit. The Jessore, Chuadanga, Meherpur, and Khulna regions have vast plains, and the presence of plains allows heat to flow quickly, resulting in direct heat and higher temperatures.
The second reason for the heat in this region is that the western ghats of the Bay of Bengal are located in Khulna and Chuadanga. As the Bay of Bengal is the source of water vapor, the amount of water vapor is higher in this area than in others, leading to higher temperatures.
On April 15th, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department recorded the highest temperature in 58 years in Dhaka, at 40.4 degrees Celsius. The previous highest temperature in Dhaka was 42°C, recorded in 1965.
A research article titled ‘Changes in Urbanization and Urban Heat Island Effect in Dhaka City,” published in Springer’s Theoretical and Applied Climatology in February 2022, mentioned that Dhaka city has turned into a “heat island,” with a difference of up to 7 degrees Celsius in land surface temperature between Dhaka and surrounding areas due to urbanization. The warmest heat islands in Dhaka include Tejgaon, Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Paltan, Motijheel, Gulshan, Banani, Rampura, Banasri, and Madani Avenue. This increase in temperature is due to the expansion of the land surface by 25.33% between 2001 and 2017, while the population in the city increased by 76.65%.
Mohammad Kamruzzaman, a researcher, explained that the expansion of land surface has decreased the green areas and water bodies in Dhaka city while increasing the population and number of houses. This unplanned urbanization and rise in population density caused some areas inside Dhaka city to increase in temperature by 3°C on average compared to peripheral areas in just 17 years.
The increasing temperature has led to new diseases and increased the severity of existing diseases. People are experiencing heat strokes, and those who work outside are struggling to work efficiently in the intense heat, affecting their families and the economy. A study by Duke University researchers found that as heat and humidity levels rise due to climate change, Bangladesh loses approximately 254 hours of labor per person per year due to extreme heat exposure.
Bangladesh could lose approximately 21 billion working hours if the global temperature rises by 1°C, compared to the current 7 billion losses at the current temperature. The Duke University researchers found that most of these losses occur in low- and middle-income countries like Bangladesh, which rely heavily on manual labor in agriculture and construction. Moving work to the early morning can recover about 30% of this lost labor, but workers’ ability to adapt this way will swiftly decrease with each additional degree of global warming as even the coolest hours of the day quickly become too hot for continuous outdoor labor.
To combat rising temperatures, planting trees on footpaths and roofs and reclaiming water bodies from dumping yards could bring the temperature down by several degrees. Deciduous trees, which shed their leaves with seasonal changes, are great for cities since they block sunlight during the summer, reducing the impact of the urban heat island effect, and let in light during the winter, saving money on heating costs. These trees provide much-needed shade, which helps lower the surrounding temperature. In addition, these trees produce water vapor via transpiration. This vapor rises into the atmosphere, causing the air to chill. This can assist in reducing the area’s temperature and making it a more comfortable place for people.
To encourage the planting of deciduous trees in the country, we need a number of initiatives, such as public awareness, urban planning, government support, private-public partnerships, tree nurseries, community involvement, and tree-planting campaigns. With concerted efforts and a commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change, it is possible to reverse this trend and create a more sustainable future for the country.