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Urban Heat Island Effect

Climate change has been an issue that has been intensely debated and criticized for the past few decades. New York City, a massively man-made city is currently trying its best to combat climate change by implementing new codes, laws and practices for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly city. Despite its current progress in trying to become a green city, the architecture, and landscaping in the city has an effect on the climate that not many people are aware of and is relatively big when taken into consideration.

Architecture and buildings have played a large part in affecting the climate and temperatures in cities due to the materials that are used to make up the building as well as the resources needed to complete the construction of them. Concrete and masonry are materials that are used greatly in New York as some of the main components of building structure and facades of buildings, as well as sidewalks and infrastructure of the city. These materials absorb and entrap heat, leading to higher average temperatures in areas of the city in which there are many man made structures.

We performed an experiment, measuring the average temperatures of different types of materials across a small area of downtown Brooklyn. We used a thermometer to measure the average air temperature and a thermal radar to measure the temperature of different materials including grass, dirt, concrete, and pavement in sunny and shady areas. What we noticed is that grassy areas and dirt areas on average, had cooler temperatures in both shady and sunny conditions. Another observation made was that concrete and pavement from sidewalks would maintain higher average temperatures in comparison to the grass and dirt areas, regardless of being in either a shady or sunny area.

From these observations we can see that the density of man-made structures will impact the average temperatures of cities and urban areas which will continue to experience warmer temperatures because of the materials that are used for their construction. These higher temperatures affect the climate of these areas.

image: https://www.businessinsider.com/thermal-images-explain-urban-heat-island-effect-2013-8


Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

2 Responses

  1. Good observation. “New York City’s infrastructure contributes to the urban heat island effect, which is closely linked to climate change and affects major cities like NYC. The heat island effect raises daytime temperatures, reduces nighttime cooling, and increases air pollution levels, ultimately leading to heat-related deaths and illnesses such as respiratory difficulties, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and non-fatal heat stroke. To address this issue, implementing new codes, laws and practices that promote sustainability and environmental friendliness can help mitigate climate change in New York City.”

  2. Excellent observations Brandon. It was great that you drew on your Architectural background to inform us on how the structures of the city can impact the temperature of our surroundings and climate change. It is especially insightful that the material we use can have such an impact on the temperatures. I think that in addition to the way in which the buildings were built, the way on which the buildings are maintained and operated can also impact the temperatures, climates and the environment. Policies regarding garbage disposal and energy use for lighting and heating can make an impact.

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