The Reason Why Qatar Is The Only Nation To Have Blue Roads

Living in a nation classified as a dry, subtropical desert isn’t easy, especially if that is its only major topography.

Qatar is a small, flat country that has little variation in weather with constant high temperatures. It is worse in its capital city, Doha, due to the number of buildings, other concrete and steel structures, and vehicles. They all combine to absorb and generate extreme heat. But Qatar’s blue roads, a pioneering urban innovation, are set to bring down urban temperature.

Qatar has taken several steps that help promote sustainable development and ensure international environmental compliance. And such compliance is vital for the very survival of Qatar with its limited natural resources. It has helped Qatar protect its natural heritage. It has also ensured the long-term health of the environment and created a vibrant and sustainable economy.

The Urban Heat Island Effect

One of the most radical innovations initiated by the Arab nation has been the installation of outdoor air-conditioning and blue roads that will help bring down temperatures. It will help mitigate the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect.

The urban-rural population has tilted towards the latter and almost 55% of the world’s population is urban. It has led to a dense network of buildings and roads. So even in nations with cooler mean temperatures, such habitats lead to a greater density of impermeable and heat-reflective structures. These contribute substantially to the higher average temperatures.

Temperatures in Qatar can reach a scorching 115F (46C) in summer. Air conditioning was used during the World Cup in 2022. Giant coolers are also a pervasive feature in outdoor commercial centers and shopping malls, and also alongside pavements.

Blue Roads To Combat Extreme Heat: Qatar Among Countries That Use Innovative Ways 

In the capital city of Doha, close to one of the city’s largest souq, or open-air commercial centers, blue roads are a common feature because dark-colored roads absorb much more heat from the sun. installing lighter roads would help reflect some of that heat back into the atmosphere.

The blue roads are expected to substantially bring down temperatures. The experimental 650-foot stretch of blue roads has a color coating that is 0.003 inches (1mm) thick and contains a special pigment that reflects light into the atmosphere.

The blue roads also contain ceramic microspheres that are hollow and are intended to send back infrared radiation.

Saad AL-Dosari, an engineer who is part of the Blue Roads project said that dark asphalt is 20C higher than the surrounding temperature as it attracts and absorbs a substantial amount of heat.

Other Countries Also Experimenting With Lighter Roads Similar To Qatar’s Blue Roads

Other cities across the world are also experimenting with blue roads or other colors that absorb less light.

Los Angeles has also given a lighter coat of paint to its roads. But instead of blue roads, the American city has coated its streets a greyish-white. It is 23F cooler than the normal black surface.

Other than the blue roads, Qatar also relies on outdoor air-conditioning. Cold air is pumped onto pavements through large nozzles after cold water is passed onto roads through pipelines.

The tiny desert nation is particularly vulnerable as the nation is a peninsula and juts out into the Persian Gulf.

The average temperature in the Persian Gulf on the surface is around 90.3F (32.4C). with minimal cloud cover or precipitation, especially in the summer months, high ocean surface temperatures cause higher atmospheric humidity.  

It hasn’t helped that Qatar and the neighboring countries in the Middle East nations are developing at a fast pace leading to higher urban pollution and the urban heat island effect.

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