What is this whole “urban heat island” effect? – Sept 2013
Yes, what is this effect that seems to be drawing more attention these days? Due in part to a rising population and the urbanization of more areas, the following excerpt helps to define the phenomenon:
The urban heat island effect refers to localized urban warming caused by lots of paved, dark-surfaced rooftops, streets, and parking lots. Given much of any city is covered in these low-albedo surfaces, cities can experience temperatures significantly higher than nearby green areas. Just in New York City, say Columbia researchers, perhaps “two-thirds of New York’s localized warming over the last century” is due to surfaces like conventional black rooftops, which absorb and then re-radiate light from the sun as heat.
Reducing the urban heat island effect isn’t just about lowering urban heat levels though, it’s crucial for reducing high inner-city asthma rates, which are caused by high-particulate hot days, and limiting deaths from heat exhaustion (see earlier post). In parts of Europe, the dark, absorptive surfaces of urban landscapes along with increased smog have exacerbated the effects of heat waves over the past few summers and contributed to rising death rates from heat exhaustion, mostly among the elderly or people with existing lung problems. (read more at: www.dirt.asla.org)
The increased use of green roofing is a factor in reducing this increasing situation.
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