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Ever wonder why downtown is so naturally hotter than the surrounding suburban and rural communities The reason why a metropolitan area experiences a higher temperature than its rural neighbors is due to a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect An urban heat island UHI is a metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities The term heat island describes built up areas that are hotter than surrounding areas Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand air conditioning costs air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions heat-related illness and mortality and water qualityThroughout the development of urban areas their infrastructure changes Buildings roads and other related objects replace open land and vegetation Heat islands occur on the surface as well as in the atmosphere On a hot summer day the sun can heat exposed urban surfaces such as roofs and pavement to temperatures of 5090F hotter than the air while shaded or moist surfacesoften in more rural surroundingsremain close to air temperatures Berdahl 149-158 In contrast atmospheric urban heat islands are often weak during the late morning and throughout the day and become more pronounced after sunset due to the slow release of heat from urban infrastructure According to Akbari The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1854F warmer than its surroundings On a clear calm night however the temperature difference can be as much as 22F AkbariElevated temperatures from urban heat islands particularly during the summer can affect a communitys environment and quality of life While some impacts may be beneficial such as lengthening the plant-growing season the majority of them are negative Such negatives impacts include increased energy consumption elevated emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases compromised human health and comfort and impaired water quality Elevated summertime temperatures in cities increase energy demand for cooling Research shows that electricity demand for cooling increases
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