New Studies on Urban Heat Island Effect
by SRZaouali on November 27, 2015 - 11:42pm
In the article “Urban 'Heat Island' Effect is Only a Small Contributor to Global Warming, and White Roofs Don't Help to Solve the Problem, say Stanford Researchers” by Louis Bergeron, the author presents a new perspective to urban development. The purpose of this article is to establish a relation between urban heat islands and global warming. Based on new scientific researches done by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who led the study, it was found that urban heat islands only had a minor impact on the overall global warming. His research was the first to demonstrate the consequences of urban heat island effect on sea ice, atmospheric stability, global sea-surface temperature, gas concentrations, precipitation and clouds. He characterized urban surface around the world at a resolution of one kilometer, making his simulation extremely detailed and globally comprehensive.
However, the author highlights an important point to retain concerning Jacobson’s study. Even if the researcher suggests that urban heat island is only a minor contribution to global warming, he thinks that it is still important to reduce the impacts of heat islands to slow down the rise of global temperature.
Bergeron defines the urban heat island effect, an important concept of urbanisation as a phenomena where soil and vegetation are replaced by sidewalks, paved roads and buildings. Paving prevents evaporation of water from the soil and plant leaves. Since evaporation is a cooling process, reducing evaporation warms cities. Additionally, the darker colors of some roads and buildings absorb more sunlight, heating a city further. However, based on Jacobson’s study, the author suggests that painting roofs a reflective white is not a solution for reducing the impacts of urban heat islands. Instead, it cools urban surfaces. That is, the author concludes by suggesting that new alternatives to reduce those increase of temperature need to be found.
I found this article particularly interesting because it brings up a different perspective on the impacts of urbanisation. As mentioned in the article, people usually believe that when there is an urban heat island, it necessarily has significant impacts on global warming. However, based on studies, the author challenges believes on this phenomena of urbanisation. Therefore, I think it would be interesting to further develop the impacts of those urban heat islands and see how the increase in temperature created by those areas can be reduced.
Bergeron, L. (2011, October 19). Urban 'Heat Island' Effect is Only a Small Contributor to Global Warming, and White Roofs Don't Help to Solve the Problem, say Stanford Researchers. Standford News. Retrieved from http://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/october/urban-heat-islands-101911.html