The heat island effect divides cities as well

Baltimore, Maryland, USA and summer heat
Baltimore, Maryland, USA and summer heat

**updated June 2021**

News: It’s known that there is a “heat island effect” in urban areas–large buildings, industrial zones, uncovered parking lots, paved roads, densely-built areas, etc. amplify, absorb, and release summer heat making surrounding areas hotter than areas where there are parks, more trees, and more green spaces.

But, it is not just cities versus rural areas where the heat island effect can be seen. Heat mapping research shows that there are significant temperature differences within cities as well–sometimes as much as 15 to 20 degrees F.

And, the hotter areas–including “dense residential neighborhoods with little tree cover and plenty of asphalt”–are often home to people with lower incomes. The cooler locations–including areas of higher-value homes, tree-lined streets, and more parks–are often home to the more affluent.

As climate change has brought and continues to bring hotter weather, how do cities and the people who live in the cities adapt? How can cities be made livable for all people–and not just those who have more money? “The health risks associated with these hyperlocal heat islands will grow.”

“The easiest answer for cities that want to fight heat islands is … more green and less pavement.”

Learn more: Summer in the city is hot, but some neighborhoods suffer more (Nadja Popovich and Christopher Flavelle, New York Times, 9 August 2019).

For more information, search the Science Primary Literature database.

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