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Porto has both heat islands and cold islands

Researcher calls for ‘climate shelters’ in Porto

Researcher calls for ‘climate shelters’ in Porto

He also suggested that the city’s population is largely ‘climate illiterate’

Last week, the University of Minho (Portugal) organized a seminar called “Adaptation strategies for urban tourism in the face of climate change within a framework of post-pandemic opportunities”. What drew attention there was a study on climate change in the Porto Metropolitan Area done by geographer Hélder Lopes, who claimed that the city needs to create ‘climate shelters’ in order to withstand the impact of weather fluctuations.

The researcher, who is also working at U Minho, focused on the areas which attracted the greatest tourist concentrations, which were also the areas that trapped most urban heat. He also identified other areas which, on the other hand, experienced harsher cold waves during the winter. In his opinion, there needs to be strategic intervention in these zones so that the city would become more comfortable for its residents and visitors.

The scientists defined the situation as an ‘environmental criticality’

Mr Lopes’ methodology involved microclimatic measurements and questionnaire surveys of tourists during the summer of 2019 and the winters of 2019 and 2020. The team involved in the research concluded that in Porto the areas most susceptible to urban heat are: the one that surrounds the statue of D. Pedro IV and the one immediately north of the sculpture “Abundância/Os Meninos” by Henrique Moreira.

It is necessary to create climate refuges that allow people to protect themselves in the face of a heatwave. Then there is the issue of refuge from cold situations because when we talk about Porto, winter is also very harsh. We have to make decisions that meet these problems,” reiterated the researcher, as quoted by the Lusa news agency.

The areas most susceptible to the cold are those that are forested next to the Ardina statue and, in the north part, near the City Hall building.

Convinced that “climate illiteracy” encompasses the population, senior technicians and policymakers, Hélder Lopes stressed the need to guarantee the “thermoregulation” of urban areas if the society wanted to get serious about making the city a more livable place.

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