What is an urban heat island?

Trees for Energy Conservation April 27, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Cities are often referred to as urban heat islands. This is due to the lack of vegetation in city centers when compared to suburban, exurban and rural areas.


Buildings, asphalt, and concrete absorb solar energy, resulting in the emission of longwave radiation that then heats the air and atmosphere in cities. Cities also use large amounts of energy and emit this energy as waste heat, adding to the urban heat island effect. 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.