Cities are almost always hotter than the rural areas that surround them, but global warming is taking that extra heat and making a hell of a lot hotter. In the near future, this combination of urbanization and climate change could bring urban temperatures to such high levels that it could threaten human health, strain energy resources, and hurt economic productivity.
Summers in the United States have been getting hotter since 1970, but on average, cities across the country are getting hotter at a much faster pace than adjacent rural areas. This is due to something called an “urban heat island”. These heat islands are caused by asphalt and building which absorb and radiate heat, essentially trapping heat in an area. The lack of greenery also means less shade and evaporative cooling.
With more than 80% of the United States population living in cities, these urban heat islands, in combination with Earth’s rising temperatures caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, have the potential to cause serious health effects for millions of Americans during the hottest months of the year. Heat is the largest weather-related killer in the United States,
Researchers have suggested that better urban planning, especially with designs that incorporate more trees and urban parks, as well as white roofs and alternative material for urban infrastructure can help reduce the effects of urban heat islands. However, this will not affect the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, which are projected to drive the average summer temperatures in the United States to even higher levels in the coming decades.
Read more about the story at The Huffington Post.