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High temperature readouts may be a foretaste of 'epochal heat'

37 Comments

A look at last week's high temperatures around the globe showed 34 degrees in Cairo; 33 degrees in Tehran; 32 degrees in Hanoi; and 39 degrees in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture.

In the first week of July, 2,594 people around the country were taken to emergency rooms with heat prostration -- a figure roughly triple that of the same week of 2012.

Japan has a number of recognized "heat spots," such as Kumagaya City in Saitama Prefecture and Tajimi City in Gifu Prefecture. But now, reports Spa! (July 23-30), the fierce heat seems to have spread to most parts of the archipelago, leading weathercaster Masamitsu Morita to claim that "Japan has already entered a period of epochal heat that only occurs once every millennium."

Morita cited a similar period that history records extended from the Hein to Kamakura periods, between 800 to 1,300 years ago.

The previous record for "manatsubi," days in which Japan's temperature exceeded 30 degrees, was 71, set in 1992. That same year had 13 "moshobi," in which the temperature exceeded 35 degrees.

According to Morita, Tokyo this year is on pace to exceed 2010, the previous record year with 11 "moshobi" -- and the most since temperatures began to be recorded in 1876.

Even worse, Spa! suspects that the weather news may be understating how hot it really is in certain parts of the capital.

"Through the 'heat island' effect, warm air from the city center is lifted and blown inland by ocean breezes coming from the southwest, and the Tokyo wards of Nerima, Itabashi and Kita are particularly vulnerable," explains environmental engineering professor Ikusei Misaka of the Nippon Institute of Technology, who adds such places as apartment blocks and parking lots that are surrounded on three sides by high buildings are the most likely places for superheated air to converge.

"The heat gets reflected off the walls of buildings and the surface of the asphalt, and in some places temperatures of up to 60 degrees are recorded," Misaka said.

Spa! dispatched reporters around the city armed with ordinary, store-purchased digital thermometers. They took temperature readings at 1.5 meters from the ground, about chest height.

The reporter who went to Kichijoji in the west Tokyo suburb of Misashino City visited an outdoor coffee terrace located seven or eight minutes away from the station building, where his thermometer read 41.6 degrees. He was to find out shortly afterwards that at almost the same moment he took that reading, a man in his 50s working at a nearby parking facility keeled over from heat prostration and had been taken by ambulance to a hospital.

"He pushed a bicycle inside," the man's co-worker told him. "At that time he appeared completely normal, but when he came out the exit, he collapsed. It's damn hot, and I don't feel that good myself."

According to the parking facility's supervisor, temperatures inside the steel-reinforced concrete building reached nearly 40 degrees.

Another reporter who went to a residential area near Oji station in Kita Ward was in for a rude surprise. In the shade of a five-story apartment building, he pulled out his thermometer. He couldn't be sure if the high temperature was from the buildup of reflected heat or due to retention of the heat on the road surface, but the thermometer readout gave an astonishing 49.5 degrees.

Some other "hot spots" Spa! reporters in the capital measured this past week included:

  • On a narrow lane in Tsukishima, Chuo Ward: 44.8 degrees.

  • At Shimura Sakaue in Itabashi Ward: 42 degrees.

  • In a residential area 10 minutes on foot from Ekoda station in Nerima Ward: 41.9 degrees.

  • At a parking lot in Shinjuku's adult playground of Kabukicho: 39.8 degrees.

In a short sidebar, Spa! notes that Dr James E Hansen, recently-retired director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, had been quoted in the media as predicting there was a strong likelihood that 2013 would see existing temperature records broken around the globe.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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Some other “hot spots” Spa! reporters in the capital measured this past week included:

And why weren't there any obachan's out there tossing water around to "cool" things down?

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Doesn't this Morita guy read the scientific literature on man-made global climate change? And why doesn't this article mention this?

Even worse, Spa! suspects that the weather news may be understating how hot it really is in certain parts of the capital.

Spa! should suspect that weather news IS understating the influence of climate change on the new abnormal weather patterns and just how hot it's going to get in the years to come.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Doesn't this Morita guy read the scientific literature on man-made global climate change? And why doesn't this article mention this?

You have to ask?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Damm it's hot! Let's go to the beach.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

"Pull up the trees, put up a parking lot." I think that is how the song goes. Humanity will never learn.

9 ( +10 / -2 )

warispeaceJUL. 18, 2013 - 08:23AM JST

Doesn't this Morita guy read the scientific literature on man-made global climate change? And why doesn't this article mention this?

Because this article has nothing to do with climate change (whether man-made or natural solar-influenced cycles) This article clearly states it's about the 'heat island' effect which will pretty damn obviously happen in massive cities of concrete and asphalt

4 ( +7 / -3 )

*The biggest easily-solvable problem I see is basic ignorance of how to keep a building cool without spending a fortune in electricity. Here are some tips from a guy who used to manage an old building in Dallas.

1-close curtains, especially on the sunward side of the building. If the AC is fighting the hot sunlight, it will lose. Flourescent lights are cheaper than overworking the AC. 2-in buildings without central AC, keep the doors closed in air-conditioned rooms. Leaving the door open means you're trying to cool the whole floor. 3-if you're leaving a room for a while, close the curtains and turn the AC up to 28, but don't turn it off. It uses less power than letting it heat all the way up again. 4-turn off lightsand pcs you're not using...they use power and add heat.

These are commonsense hints....that absolutely NO ONE in Japan will try. Why not? Pick the reason in YOUR organization won't do it.

1)Bucho didn't come up with it, so no one can do it without getting bullied. 2)These ideas come from "outside". 3)Sweating all day shows gamman. 4)These are great ideas, and we should all do them....but they haven't been done before, so..... we just won`t.

If by some miracle you DO try them, congratulations, your staff will be grateful and more efficient and sharp. Maybe your company will still be open in 5 years.

*

**

8 ( +10 / -3 )

Pull up the trees, put up a parking lot." I think that is how the song goes. Humanity will never learn

Yea, shame on those businesses that make products that people want and need. It's too bad the world's 7 Billion people can't just lounge around down at the local park, in the shade, paid for by....who, you?

-3 ( +4 / -8 )

psychopathsareincontrolJul. 18, 2013 - 10:18AM JST

Because this article has nothing to do with climate change (whether man-made or natural solar-influenced cycles) This article clearly states it's about the 'heat island' effect which will pretty damn obviously happen in massive cities of concrete and asphalt

If the climate change in Japan is resulting in higher average temperatures, the that PLUS the additional heat island effect will be a double whammy. Climate change is obviously part of the discussion.

As for solar-cycles, they are not strong enough to account for the warming seen globally.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

gaijininfo. What in the world are you talking about?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@psychopathsareincontrol

Because this article has nothing to do with climate change

Were you reading another article? It was both about extremely high temperatures in spots around the globe (including even higher temperatures caused by the heat-island effect) and heat stroke. It was also about forecasting. So how does this not concern climate change and what is to come?

3 ( +4 / -2 )

Yea, shame on those businesses that make products that people want and need.

Some people really don't get it. You're like a guy adrift on a raft in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, chopping bits off the raft with an axe for firewood, saying "Well, I'm cold aren't I? You want me to freeze?"

Meanwhile, the raft gets smaller and smaller....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

These are commonsense hints....that absolutely NO ONE in Japan will try. Why not? Pick the reason in YOUR organization won't do it.

1)Bucho didn't come up with it, so no one can do it without getting bullied. 2)These ideas come from "outside". 3)Sweating all day shows gamman. 4)These are great ideas, and we should all do them....but they haven't been done before, so..... we just won`t.

Hooray! Exactly so!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

There is a house nearby which has one of its walls covered with climbing ivy. I wonder how much it helps to insulate the residents from the heat.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Star-vikingJUL. 18, 2013 - 11:04AM JST As for solar-cycles, they are not strong enough to account for the warming seen globally.

Sooooo.... the yearly cycle of the sun and the earth's position in relation to it isn't strong enough to create 4 very different seasons and temp ranges??

.

Masamitsu Morita to claim that "Japan has already entered a period of epochal heat that only occurs once every millennium."

Many people seem not to have read this line... or are deliberately not commenting/acknowledging it on it

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

How to deal with the hot weather: 1) turn up the AC. 2) tell yourself "global warming is a myth. This is just a cycle." 3) repeat step 2 until you believe it....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sooooo.... the yearly cycle of the sun and the earth's position in relation to it isn't strong enough to create 4 very different seasons and temp ranges??

Sooooo... someone doesn't understand the difference between the 4 seasons caused yearly by the tilt in the Earth's axis, and the 11-year solar cycle ?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

If people were really bothered they'd do something about it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well said Cleo!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another reporter who went to a residential area near Oji station in Kita Ward was in for a rude surprise. In the shade of a five-story apartment building, he pulled out his thermometer. He couldn’t be sure if the high temperature was from the buildup of reflected heat or due to retention of the heat on the road surface, but the thermometer readout gave an astonishing 49.5 degrees.

Pulled out his thermometer? From where I wonder? Beats the highest temperature recorded in Japan by some distance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

gaijininfo. What in the world are you talking about?

Somebody was moaning about too many parking lots, and not enough parks. I was pointing out that parks cost money, and don't produce anything, while parking lots generate income for businesses, and are therefore part of the capital structure.

Sure, if the world only had a couple million people, with everybody having their own shack and a couple of acres to retire to at their leisure, then the "too many parking lots, not enough space" would be a valid argument.

But as it stands, there are seven million people, all with needs that can't be met by having nice cozy little parks all over the place.

But if any of you want to buy up a bunch of land, with your own money, and do away with the parking lots and build parks on your own dime, knock yourselves out.

I know the above paragraphs contain a lot of ideas and are complicated, and I understand the sentence, "too many parking lots, not enough trees" is easier on the brain. So have fun, kids.

-2 ( +1 / -2 )

No need to worry.

When the heat reaches epic proportions, the only sensible thing to do is to cover oneself top to toe in black. Perhaps wear a sun visor and a ski jacket?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Pull up the trees, put up a parking lot." I think that is how the song goes. Humanity will never learn.

Perhaps "Big Yellow Taxi"?

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

--- "Big Yellow Taxi" (1970) by Joni Mitchell (most recently covered by the Counting Crows). From Wiki:

I wrote 'Big Yellow Taxi' on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart... this blight on paradise. That's when I sat down and wrote the song.

THIS article - while touching on global warming - was mainly concerned with how reported temperatures can become misleading when a city's "island effect" combined with tall skyscrapers acting as reflectors concentrate more infra-red energy in certain spots. This concentration can turn "hot" into "deadly". This kind of information applies regardless of the source of the global warming and so the debate on "man-made" vs. "natural cycles" has no place in this thread.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love hot weather.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"No need to worry.

When the heat reaches epic proportions, the only sensible thing to do is to cover oneself top to toe in black. Perhaps wear a sun visor and a ski jacket?"

Hahahahaa saw a guy wearing exactly that only yesterday. My wife and I just looked at each other in disbelief. But there you have it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate! It is a mantra preached by the military when we are in hot weather operations. My Japanese friend was surprised when she saw how much water I drank during this recent heat spell.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Were you reading another article? It was both about extremely high temperatures in spots around the globe (including even higher temperatures caused by the heat-island effect) and heat stroke.

I think what it was trying to show was that the Yamanashi temperature is hotter than some places we (as in "we Japanese") think of as hot - Hanoi in tropical Vietnam, Cairo, a city in a desert region, and Tehran (very very foreign, kinda Arab, so probably real hot). In fact, the temperatures given for those cities are absolutely normal for the time of year.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ref hydrating - I dont mind looking silly - and carry a litre of water spray gun - if you try it - just mind you only spray yourself - as fellow travelers might prefer to stay smart.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You can also help keep things cooler by using LED lighting and televisions as much as you can, because they produce much less heat added to the environment than the older technology fluorescent bulbs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Heat stroke is really an underestimated epidemic among the public...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When the real estate "bubble" in the late 1980s forced up land prices, out of sheer greed the then-governor of Tokyo anticipated a windfall by filling in Tokyo Bay with a huge man-made island. In so doing, he basically unplugged the downtown waterfront areas natural air conditioner, which resulted in summer temperatures rising even more than could be attributed to climate change. Oh well, the good news is that at the rate the sea levels are rising, Odaiba will probably be under water by the end of the century.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Morita cited a similar period that history records extended from the Hein to Kamakura periods, between 800 to 1,300 years ago.

At first I thought this was just a typo and should have read "Heian Period" instead of "Hein", but then I thought it might refer to a time when the temperatures were particularly "heinous" ...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Methane hydrate will soon start to melt down, ocean will become pink color without oxygen, fish and 90 percent of live in the ocean will perish and the heat will last thousand of years!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Repeat after me. There is no such thing as global warming. It is not as hot as it feels. That 39 is really 29. Sunny summers in Seattle are normal. That's not a desert it is a just a very big beach. Money good, life on earth bad.

And just keep listening to the nay sayers who do not want to do all we can to reduce our impact on this. Regardless of whether or not we are the only cause of global warming, if we are a contributor we should help reduce our impact ANYWAY.

My mother taught me, and her mother taught her. Bet on the side of caution and avoid avoidable problems if you can. This is damned good advice and we should do all we can to reduce our impact. And if warming is natural, well, at least we did our part not to make things worst. But if we are indeed the cause, then we may well fix things.

Money madness and sheer stupidity is putting the whole planet at risk if we fail to act.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Spa! suspects that the weather news may be understating how hot it really is

Not wrong! The other day the news said Yamaguchi and Fukuoka would reach a high of just 32 Celsius. The actual temperature was closer to 37!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I kept waiting for someone to point out how marvelously cool it has been the last 3 or 4 days. I finally gave up!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As a boy reading a comic, the image of a depiction of a 'hell' in the story was the crowded subway in Tokyo. With people literally dropping dead in 2013 due to the extreme heat I see that this fiction has become a reality.........

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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