An urban heat island is a metropolitan area that is hotter than their outlying regions with impacts felt most during the summer months. In this week’s Two Degree Difference, we’ll discuss an urban heat island we’re all familiar with…Burlington, Vermont.

Urban heat islands can experience peak temperatures that are 10 to 20 degrees hotter than nearby areas with more trees and less pavement. In a city like Burlington where there’s more pavement than trees, the ground is able to absorb more of the heat allowing temperatures to generally run warmer than the rest of the region. In 2021, new research showed the top 20 urban heat islands in the Untied States and Burlington ranked 13th.

This is an climate change issue because extreme urban heat is a public health threat especially for individuals an communities that are more vulnerable due to health, social, economic, or other reasons. One unique solution to counteract this climate change problem consists of planting more trees particularly along paved roads. Another solution calls for a practice called “Green Roof”. It’s the concept of having a roof with a vegetative layer. The layer of plants and flowers help to provide shade and reduce the roof surface and surrounding air temperatures.