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  • Lawrence Ng

Singapore To Use Info From Climate Sensors, Environmental Data To Beat the Heat

In July 2021, Singapore recorded sweltering heat as temperatures rose above 34 degrees Celsius for two weeks. As a solution, climate sensors, computational models and other technologies will provide information that can be applied to help keep the island cool.

Credit: Kanuman /

In a Committee of Supply 2021 debate speech in the Singapore Parliament, Grace Fu — Minister for Sustainability and the Environment — announced her ministry's plans to use a network of climate sensors across the nation to tackle the rising temperatures. According to Fu, the sensors will measure and collect data on relative humidity, wind speeds and ambient temperature to further understand the urban heat island (UHI) effect. The ministry is also working towards the Cooling Singapore 2.0 research project, which seeks to create a Digital Urban Climate Twin (DUCT) for the country.

The DUCT is a model that will help researchers, urban planners and engineers make decisions on urban planning. It will apply environmental, infrastructural, energy and traffic computational models. The DUCT will also integrate regional and micro-scale climate models used in UHI and outdoor thermal comfort research.

The project will look into urban heat islands, which are formed when a city experiences higher temperatures than adjacent rural areas. This happens as buildings, roads and other infrastructure soak up and re-emit the sun’s heat more than forests, bodies of water and other natural landscapes.

Credit: Rafa Estrada

Singapore has been affected by this as data from the Meteorological Service Singapore revealed that eastern areas like Marine Parade and Changi consistently experienced higher temperatures than the rest of the country from January to June 2021. At some point, the temperature difference between these parts versus other portions of the island was nearly as high as 4 degrees Celsius.

To properly adapt to climate change, other technologies will be deployed. In the upcoming Tengah town, there will be sensors collecting real-time environmental data to be installed in street lamps, bus stops and other infrastructure. Winston Chow, a climate scientist, said that applying the environmental data to district cooling plants can improve the efficiency of such an energy system.

"In terms of adaptation, you try to integrate a high resolution of environmental data with the decision-making to immediately respond to real-time events, so that the population there won't be unduly exposed to bad environmental conditions," said Chow, who is also an Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Society at the Singapore Management University.

There are also other ways to address the heat. For one, Mark Yeo — CBRE Singapore’s Chief Operating Officer for Property Management — believes that solar panels set up on a building’s roof or facade can function as "sun-shading devices", lessening the structure’s heat load.


Written by Sophia Lopez

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