Merida, Yucatan — Despite ongoing reforestation campaigns, the city has a definite preference for concrete over trees.
Rapid growth and new roadways in the city’s north have underscored the problem. From Francisco de Montejo to Altabrisa, these flat-lying and concrete-laden neighborhoods have become a “plancha de calor,” a hot griddle that is on average 3 degrees celsius hotter than the rest of the city.
Meteorologist Juan Palma Solis says all of Merida can already be considered a “heat island,” but where new roads and high-rises are quickly developing, it’s only worse.
“The heat has increased in recent years over the city of Merida, and as time progresses, temperature records are broken,” said Palma Solis. “This is definitely related to the increase in the mass of concrete and the constant deforestation of which the city is a victim.”
If it is 35C / 95F in the Centro, which is predicted this week, a walk in an Altabrisa parking lot will mean enduring 38C / 100.4F conditions.
“We do not rule out current conditions such as climate change, but in the particular case of this issue, the main reason is the rapid growth of the area and the large number of construction projects, that is, the high presence of concrete, commercial plazas, parking lots,” said the meteorologist.
He also indicated that the “concrete” factor can be observed when weather monitoring stations travel from north to south.
“A clear example is that while the measurement in the northern area of the city is high in terms of temperature, when you cross the peripheral ring immediately … the temperature drops, which reinforces the idea that the ‘concrete factor’ is an indicator of the high temperatures in northern Merida,” he explained.
In the last 10 years, Merida has twice broken its own record-high temperatures.
“It is important that measures be taken quickly, since, if the heat island in Merida continues to grow, in the next few years we could reach temperatures above 45C / 113F, a range that could become something very dangerous for the inhabitants of Merida,” he said.
Reforestation would mitigate the problem, since trees cast shadows and prevent heat from absorbing into the ground. Parks with grass and plants are also sorely needed, he added.
Source: Punto Medio