Heat islands: the increase in temperature in urban environments

Sep 6, 2023 | #Sustainable | 0 comments

Heat islands: the increase in temperature in urban environments

In a world where cities are in an accelerated growth process and global warming is a palpable reality, measuring temperatures in urban environments emerges as a challenge of great importance.

We are faced with the need to capture and understand phenomena such as “heat islands” and fluctuations relative to historical levels. These phenomena are not only scientific curiosities, but they are acquiring great relevance in our daily lives.

How heat islands affect the urban environment

Heat islands, urban areas with temperatures significantly higher than their rural surroundings, are a compelling example of how human activities can alter the environment.

They are no longer merely abstract concepts in science books, but are clearly manifested in the daily lives of those who live and work in these ever-expanding urban areas. The impermeability of the asphalt and the lack of vegetation are just some of the variables that contribute to this phenomenon.

An example is what is happening in the city of Paris, which, in these circumstances, is forced to transform to lower its temperature and become a more livable city even in heat wave situations.

To address this challenge, Paris plans to plant 170,000 trees by 2026, convert parking spaces into green areas by 2030, and remove 40% of its asphalt.

“The idea is to go from a city that is like a radiator, which has an urban heat island effect, to a city that is an oasis,” said the Councilor for Ecological Transition, Dan Lert.

In this context, the ability to detect, characterize and map sites with high temperatures on a large scale and in comparison with their environment becomes a fundamental objective. Imagine the possibility of identifying these hot areas on a map, understanding how they are distributed and how they influence the quality of life of urban residents. This is where technology and science come together.

Evaluation of temperatures in urban areas

To achieve this, a multidisciplinary effort is required. Obtaining historical data provides us with a baseline to evaluate how temperatures have evolved in certain urban areas.

The detection of spatial anomalies allows us to identify hot spots in the middle of the urban mosaic. Comparison with the environment is essential to understand how local factors influence the formation of these heat islands. Likewise, it is imperative to analyze different urban areas and establish correlations with the density of buildings, the lack of vegetation and other factors that contribute to this thermal phenomenon.

The result of this work lies not only in the accumulation of data and graphs, but in the real impact it can have on our lives. By understanding where and why these high temperatures form, cities can implement effective mitigation strategies.

One could promote the planting of trees in specific areas, encourage the use of green roofs and more reflective surfaces, or even rethink the arrangement of buildings and green areas in urban design.

In short, the challenge of measuring temperatures in urban environments is a call to action. It invites us to look beyond the numbers and delve into the complexity of our constantly changing cities. By addressing this challenge, we are paving the way toward a more sustainable, resilient and liveable urban future for all.

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