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Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi maps climate change

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The Earth Observation and Environmental Remote Sensing Laboratory at the Masdar Institute, Abu Dhabi, initiated a mapping project to monitor the climate of the city. The project has begun mapping the climate of parts of Abu Dhabi to see how various types of developments affect its microclimates.

Looking at 25 years of NASA satellite data on Abu Dhabi, scientists have found some surprising results. The project’s initial research suggested that the microclimate trends seen in the West – hotter downtown areas and cooler suburban areas – are reversed in Abu Dhabi, where the suburbs were warmer than the city centre. This turns the conventional understanding of urban microclimate on its head.

The causes are several. The moisture in vegetation reduces surface air temperature, while wind-conscious layout of buildings can create “urban canyons” that channel the wind and reduce the “feels-like” temperature. The presence of tall buildings also increases the total shaded areas from direct solar radiation, which also contribute in reducing downtown temperatures.

Additionally, certain building materials, like marble and stone, are more reflective than others like red brick and asphalt, meaning they trap less heat. These factors combine to reduce the inner-city temperature by about 4°C to 6°C.

By the same token, Abu Dhabi’s suburban areas tend to have less vegetation and low-rise buildings. They often have wider roads, and therefore more heat-trapping asphalt. All of these combine to raise the temperature.

Source: Masdar Institute