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What is the urban heat island effect?

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What is the urban heat island effect?

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On hot days urban areas can have temperatures 20 to 60% higher than the surrounding countryside. This is due to a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect. Causes include: • the capacity of some urban surface materials (particularly darker and denser materials) to retain and radiate heat; • the way in which buildings in general block the cooling effect of relatively cold night air and cooling wind; • the way in which tall buildings, in particular, provide multiple surfaces for the reflection and absorption of sunlight; and • pollution and the lack of evaporation from water and vegetation as warmer air temperatures can impact on air quality, public health and the demand for energy.

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If you can’t take the heat, get out of the city. Turn on the local weather report and you’ll probably notice an odd trend. Temperatures are often a few degrees higher in cities than they are in their surrounding rural areas. This temperature discrepancy is the result of a bizarre phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. As the name implies, the effect makes cities into islands of heat. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, temperatures in U.S. cities can get as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than their surrounding areas [source: EPA]. Normally the temperature disparity is not quite that large, but even a few degrees can make a huge difference. The demand for air conditioning in the summer leads to higher energy bills. And many ar

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What is the urban heat island effect? If you can’t take the heat, get out of the city. Turn on the local weather report and you’ll probably notice an odd trend. Temperatures are often a few degrees higher in cities than they are in their surrounding rural areas. This temperature discrepancy is the result of a bizarre phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. As the name implies, the effect makes cities into islands of heat. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, temperatures in U.S. cities can get as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than their surrounding areas [source: EPA]. Normally the temperature disparity is not quite that large, but even a few degrees can make a huge difference. The demand for air conditioning in the summer lea

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Heat islands occur where many buildings and paved surfaces in close proximity are designed with dark materials that absorb heat from the sun. Studies have shown an urban area can become 2 to 8F warmer than the surrounding countryside.

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