Downtown areas hotter than rural areas: urban heat islands

By Maci Tetrick :abc57 – excerpt (includes video)

Have you ever noticed a difference in temperature when you go from your neighborhood to a downtown area? This isn’t something you’re imagining. Urban areas can sometimes have temperatures up to 15 degrees warmer than nearby rural spots.

In the summertime, this is known as urban heat island effect. Cities are filled with more pavement and buildings, while rural areas have more greenery. The difference in albedo leads to a difference in temperature.

Hold on, what’s albedo? It’s a fancy word for measuring whether an object reflects sunlight or absorbs sunlight. Think about when you wear a black tee shirt in the summer. You absorb a lot of the sunlight and feel warmer. Compare this to a white tee shirt, where you reflect more sunlight. White and light colored shirts leave you feeling cooler.

The same concept is in place with cities. Parking lots, sidewalks, and rooftops are typically dark colored. They absorb sun easily and mean warmer temperatures for surrounding areas…(more)

Urban Heat Island Effects is the hot topic for the week on ABC channels. They are all running the story which give us a good reason to question the environmental argument for dense housing and killing single family neighborhoods by passing bills like SB9, SB10.

This is also a good reason to promote and protect solar rooftop energy as the best alternative to fossil fuels. The solar cells provide an extra layer of insolation and they reflect the heat off the roof at the same time, cutting the temperatures of the rooms by a few degrees.


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