UBC Undergraduate Research

The urban heat island : causes and effects Cancino, Karen


The Urban Heat Island Effect has become one of the world’s leading urban environmental issues of this century. Urbanization has increased concerns about the UHIE, especially in terms of human health and a healthy functioning urban environment. The UHIE results in significant and sometimes dramatic increase in air temperature change between the urban environment and its surrounding areas. The most dramatic change to be seen is the alteration of the landscape, causing multiple interactions with people, different surface materials, atmospheric anomalies and the urban ecology. Mostly important is the heat island structure which extends from the ground to certain levels above ground, and the atmospheric interactions which in turn causes different thermal projections throughout the city. Thus the heat island effect is a contributing factor to a larger list of health problems which will only increase with the explosive growth of the population and the increasing impact of climate change. The only viable solution to this alteration of our environment is to implement better urban planning and for the ultimate expansion of green spaces that are made possible through new materials, technology and urban forestry. Urban forestry has come from being valued for its aesthetic quality, to being valued as an essential urban ecosystem. There is much more to our natural green spaces than imagined: they ameliorate our environment by giving us many resources that we need in any city. Maintaining urban forests and addressing changes to urban planning will become valuable steps in mitigating the UHIE problems for future generations; making natural environments a valuable component of any urban city should be a priority for the sustainability and future developments in an urban environment.

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