The Urban Heat Island Effect

THE URBAN HEAT ISLAND EFFECT

Something known as the “urban heat island effect” has a bad impact on the environment.  It’s getting more and more difficult to deal with the heat island in cities because of climate change. Some areas of the country get very hot very quickly, which is bad for your health.

URBAN HEAT ISLANDS DEFINITION:

Urban heat islands, also known as UHI, are cities that are much hotter than the surrounding countryside.

urban heat islands definition
  • It’s possible for cities to become “heat islands” when the land’s natural cover is replaced with surfaces that can absorb, store and emit heat.
  • Urban heat islands are caused by a lot of things, like concrete pavements and asphalt roads.
  • It’s most common to see damage in cities and urban areas and cities. People often remove vegetation cover when they build things.
  • All but a few of these structures don’t use the sun’s energy. As such, they store heat and release it later. This, in turn, causes the temperature outside to rise slowly.
  • The urban heat island effect is the reason why cities are hotter than the rest of the country. This is because rural areas have more vegetation cover, which cools the air.
  • Compared to the rest of the country, the temperature in urban areas can be about 10°F higher than in the countryside.

EXAMPLES OF URBAN HEAT ISLANDS

Climate change and global warming are to blame for the heat island effect in cities. The world’s most well-developed cities are experiencing warmer temperatures than less well-developed areas. (Research from The Washington Post)

  • Most cities in the United States are heat islands. The paved streets and sidewalks absorb heat and slowly release it mostly at night.
  • It’s a good idea to look at the cities in the United States that have a lot of people living in them as examples of “urban heat islands.”
how does urban heat island aggravate global warming

CAUSES OF URBAN HEAT ISLANDS

There are a lot of things that can make cities hotter than they should be: (Research from the United States Environmental Protection Agency)

  1.  Waste Heat from Human Activities

     

  • Waste heat is the heat that comes out of mechanical machines and other thermal processes, and it is called “waste heat.”
  • Most of the things that people do end up generating waste heat. People who live in cities have air conditioning systems that make the air around them hotter.
  • Vehicles and industrial plants also make a lot of heat, which makes the temperature rise slowly.
  • Waste heat build-up ends up making cities hotter.
  1. Urban Geometry

  • In an urban area, this refers to how buildings are arranged or how far apart they are. Due to limited space, buildings are often built in close proximity.
  • A thermal mass is a group of buildings that are close together. A thermal mass is any material that can take in and store heat. Thermal masses release heat into the air on a regular basis.
  • Poor urban geometry may keep buildings from releasing the heat they have stored. This will result in a temperature increase in the environment.
  • The multiple layers of buildings in cities trap heat, thereby causing a heating effect.
  1. Reduced Natural Land Cover

  • The natural land cover is made up of trees and other plants in a certain place. Plants play an important role in regulating the temperature.
  • Terrestrial green plants use a process called transpiration to send water vapor into the air. This slows down the temperature, especially in areas with a lot of trees.
  • In addition, trees provide shade, which lowers the temperature around them. The pavements and buildings in cities don’t have the same effect on the environment as they do in other places.
  • It’s because most of the materials used to build can store heat that buildings and other structures can become heat islands.
  1. Urban Haze

  • All over the world, there is a lot of air pollution, and it often looks like haze. This happens when smoke and other air particles mix together in the lower atmosphere.
  • These compounds can cover cities, stopping heat from going into space.
  • Urban areas have a lot more particulates than rural areas do. Vehicles and other machinery that run on fossil fuels emit greenhouse gasses that accumulate in the air.
  • People living in cities can get hotter when there is enough pollution in the air to make it hotter. This is called the “heat island effect.”
  1. Wind Blocking

  • By moving warm air around, wind can lower the temperature of the environment. This is called convection. However, high-rise buildings in cities act as wind barriers.
  • Wind speeds can also be slowed down by buildings and other structures. It will be easier for the areas of the room with warm air to keep the heat.
  • In cities, heat can be kept inside buildings and on the streets. In the heart of a city, areas tend to be warmer. This is because they don’t get very cold winds.
  • A city that has a lot of barriers can quickly become a heat island. If the buildings in one part of the city are very close together, the urban heat island effect can be very bad, and it can be very hot there.
how does urban heat island effect climate

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF URBAN HEAT ISLANDS?

  • High temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These conditions are particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Increase energy consumption for cooling buildings during hot weather, which can increase our carbon emissions.
  • The increased heat from urban areas can create a low-pressure zone that draws in cooler air from surrounding rural areas. This can lead to changes in wind patterns and cloud formation, which in turn can affect precipitation levels.
examples of urban heat islands

HOW CAN WE DECREASE URBAN HEAT ISLANDS?

  1. Increase green spaces: Planting trees and other vegetation in urban areas can help to reduce temperatures by providing shade and increasing evapotranspiration, which cools the air through the release of water vapor.
  2. Implement cool roofs: Using reflective roofing materials or coatings that reflect sunlight can help to reduce the amount of heat absorbed by buildings, which in turn can lower local temperatures.
  3. Install green roofs: Green roofs, which involve planting vegetation on rooftops, can provide insulation and reduce heat absorption by buildings.
  4. Use cool pavements: Using lighter-colored materials for streets and sidewalks can help to reduce heat absorption and lower local temperatures.
  5. Reduce energy consumption: Decreasing energy consumption in buildings and transportation can help to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming and climate change.
  6. Promote sustainable urban planning: Encouraging compact development, reducing sprawl, and promoting public transportation and active transportation (such as walking and biking) can all help to reduce the impact of urban heat islands.

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