The Two Degree Difference: Urban heat island effect in Burlington

Two Degree Difference

Urban heat islands are metropolitan areas where buildings and pavement cause it to be much hotter than the more rural outlying areas. The impacts are most felt during the summer months.

Elizabeth Doran, a research assistant professor at University of Vermont said “Heat islands occur when man made materials that make up our cities and towns replace the natural land cover like forests and fields.”

As industrialization cognitions and cities grow, these urban areas could become even warmer in association to the more rural suburbs. Things such as paved roads, parking lots and buildings all absorb and return heat during the day and radiate it back into the surrounding air.

Burlington for instance can be up to seven degrees warmer than its outlying rural areas according to Climate Central.

“These human materials have different thermodynamic properties that cause them to absorb and store more of the sun’s energy during the day and then release it more slowly at night back into the environment” said Doran.

Other components include lack of greenery and trees, the dimensions and heights of buildings and heat created by human activates like running engines or air conditioners. These heat islands can also have an impact on health.

“We are more likely to experience more prolonged hot temperatures than their rural neighbors and this can exacerbate the negative consequences of extreme heat including heat stress, illness and hospitalization” said Doran.

There are both short and long term solutions to adapt to a warmer future.

Doran suggests plating more street trees, reducing the amount of human materials like asphalt and concrete. “Instead using new or novel materials like pervious pavement or low albedo materials like white paint that reflects the suns energy” said Doran.

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