Extreme humidity combined with rising heat levels hitting 50, or 60 degree Celsius will render the Persian Gulf uninhabitable by the close of the century, predicts new research published in the monthly Nature Climate Change journal.
According to the report, our current building thermal adaptation will eventually prove inadequate to handle the ever increasing heat in certain regions across the globe.
So what are the possible solutions? Do humans have a future living in the hottest places on earth?
1. Intelligent materials which reflect heat-gain are already in existence, coated onto building exteriors world-wide, but in the future these smart materials may come to be used in an ever increasing amount of global construction projects if heat levels keep rising.
2. Solar electricity is in wide abundance and with efficient storage systems would prove the perfect clean and easily replenish-able energy source.
3. ‘Thermal mass’ methods could be used to even-out day-to-night temperature fluctuations.
4. Old ideas with a new twist could become popular again, such as: small windowed structures consisting of thick, tough walls made from newer materials such as composites and/or phase change materials, layered with insulation to provide thermal stability.
5. Cities will need to be cleverly designed to maximise protection from the elements. Streets would optimise shade and a great deal of thought and planning would need to be put into the spaces between buildings. Underground spaces and passageways complementing the adjoining aboveground region would also need to be considered along with what shops and services are best. Submerged shopping centres could be used to link city areas amidst so many more design ideas.
In places where heat levels continue to soar, transport infrastructure may need to be built entirely in the shade or completely underground. The Abu Dhabi, Masdar City development which is yet to become completely-operational, intends on making the idea of an efficient, underground transport system a reality, complete with driverless cars.
If humans intend to continue inhabiting such regions then we may need to accept that living partially underground could become a condition of residence into the future if we are to benefit from more stable, reduced temperatures beneath the surface of the earth.
Where and when buildings and structures are occupied may need to be optimised depending on heat levels at varying times of the day.
Cooler night-time temperatures may need to be taken advantage of.
Walking around outside and simply going about your day in these conditions would be a very bad idea, so urban city design will need to be completely over-hauled and rethought.
Super resilient, heavy duty air-conditioners will need to be designed and built to handle keeping entire structures cool and functioning.
Current thermodynamic air conditioning designs will not be able to handle such extreme temperatures so one idea would be to use the Earth’s seas and rivers as ‘heat-sinks’ to absorb the rising temperatures as the seas and rivers are at lower temperatures compared to the external air. However, there may be long term effects which are not determinable yet.
Evening temperatures allow more efficient cooling-down of structures, so buildings might need to be chilled-down at night, pre-cooling them for the morning.
Smart city infrastructure planning doesn’t happen overnight, preparation, planning and research are key. If cities in certain hotspots are under threat of heating up then the problem needs to be looked into and steps taken now.