A phenomenon where the cities are warmer than the rural surroundings, known as Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, is a concomitant impact of human-induced modifications to the intrinsic values of the natural environment and earth’s atmosphere. In line with United Nation’s highlight that three quarter of South-East Asian cities exhibit greater potential for rapid urbanisation by 2050, Greater Kuala Lumpur (GKL), a global metropolis underwent a remarkable urban transformation as stipulated in Malaysian Tenth Policy while exerting greater impact on urban climate, often attributed to escalated ambient air temperatures in the city centres compared to rural peripheries. While hosting about 21.96% of the current urban population of Malaysia, it becomes one of the primary targets of National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) leveraging upon its strengths on a cosmopolitan population and a World class infrastructure.
Starting from Sham Sani (The Urban Heat Island: Its Concept and Application to Kuala Lumpur. Sains Malaysiana 1973; 2(1): 53-64), in his pioneering two decadal UHI work in 1970s, until the contemporary researchers have reported that well-built city centres in GKL are generally warmer than the surrounding rural areas. Despite a limited number of resources, local scientists have still dedicated substantial work to study and understand the nature of Malaysian UHI to predict its characteristics for mitigation purposes. Depletion of vegetation cover and land use changes associated with replacement of urban materials are ascribed as the main factors of UHI in the local context. Increasing urban vegetation in the midst of well-built areas via simulation approaches often gains the interest of local researchers as viable remedies of UHI. In terms of impacts, studies are extremely scanty while few studies reported excessive heat loads to negatively impact the urban communities’ health, thermal comfort and lifestyle.
In a recent article published in ELSEVIER’s Sustainable Cities and Society entitled ‘A critical review of Urban Heat Island phenomenon in the context of Greater Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’, Logaraj Ramakreshnan, a Graduate Research Assistant from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, together with the other co-authors provided a state-of-art analysis of UHI studies conducted in the region. This work, being a primary review for UHI studies in GKL, highlighted the major methodological shortcomings that hamper the reliability of previous measurements and provided vital suggestions in methodological perspective for an improved UHI quantification in future. This study is expected to serve as a reference for the upcoming studies to articulate more systematic studies that yield authentic results of UHI status for this region.
Written by Logaraj Ramakreshnan, for the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.