Weather or Not: Urban Heat Island Effect

Weather or Not: Urban Heat Island Effect

ARKLATEX (KSLA) - In the summertime, it is bound to get hot.

And one thing you may notice if you live in an urban area, it is much hotter than rural areas just a few miles out.

Why is this?

It is all due to what is called the Urban Heat Island Effect.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that, on average, cities can be 10 degrees warmer than areas that have more vegetation and lie outside these urban areas.

(Source: NOAA)

As cities expand, vegetation including trees, bushes and other plants are replaced by roads and buildings.

Urban development absorbs more radiation from the sun because of the darker colors.

When cities continue to grow, they also can decrease air flow. This causes heat to get trapped between buildings.

And cars, factories and even air conditioning can produce more energy, which adds more heat to the surface.

In rural areas, more trees and vegetation reflect radiation coming from the sun.

This, in turn, will not allow temperatures to stay cooler.

Plants collect water and go through a process called evaporative cooling. This then allows the surface to cool.

As a comparison, this is like when humans sweat. You get hot due to radiation from the sun. Then when air hits your skin, this allows the moisture to evaporate and, in turn, cool you down.

This phenomena can happen during the day and at night.

You'll notice a big difference between urban and rural areas on a clear summer night.

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