Subject: [cwj 80] Study: Pollution, heat turning Tokyo tropical
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2000 14:46:01 -0700
Seq: 80

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August 19, 2000

Study: Pollution, heat turning Tokyo tropical 

Yomiuri Shimbun

Central Tokyo's summer climate has changed since the 1990s, and the city has
been experiencing frequent heavy cloudbursts similar to those in tropical
researchers said Friday. 

This summer, central Tokyo was hit by a heat wave, with daytime temperatures
exceeding 30 C, and heavy rain and thunder in the evenings for a period of

The so-called heat-island phenomenon has been blamed in part for the climate
change. This phenomenon occurs when the heat discharged from air
conditioners and motor vehicles causes inner-city temperatures to rise. 

On July 4, in Otemachi, central Tokyo, 82.5 millimeters of rain fell in one
hour--the second-highest hourly downpour total since 1939. The torrential rain
caused local flooding, while lightning blacked out some sections of central
Tokyo and surrounding areas. 

This month, thunderstorms struck on Aug. 2, 5, 7 and 9. On Aug. 7, torrential
rain hit central Tokyo, dumping 67.5 millimeters of rain on the city in a

Fumiaki Fujibe, senior researcher at the Meteorological Agency's
Research Institute, recorded afternoon rainfall in Otemachi between April and
September over the past few years and compared it with data from the suburbs. 

He found that rainfall in the period increased by about 20 percent between
and 1995, although annual rainfall figures in Otemachi and suburban areas were
unchanged over the same period. 

"Although I cannot draw any immediate conclusions, as many factors influence
rainfall amount, there seems to be a tendency toward heavy rainfall when the
heat-island phenomenon raises the temperature in urban areas," he said. 

It is thought that as warm humid air rises from the ground and cools, moisture
in the air condenses and forms cumulonimbus clouds, which release torrential

Naoki Sato, a graduate student at Tokyo University's climate-system research
center, counted up the number of times heavy rainfall of more than 10
millimeters per hour was recorded over the years in August. 

According to data from AmeDas, the Meteorological Agency's weather
monitoring system, Sato determined that the frequency in central Tokyo was
higher in the 1990s than in the 1980s. 

He also found that the frequency of heavy rainfall steadily rose from
Monday to
Friday and fell on Sundays. 

He said this may be due to the tendency of discharged heat in the center of
to be retained by airborne pollutants and absorbed by concrete and asphalt
the week.
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