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July 21, 2014 AT 1:00 pm

Why the City Is (Usually) Hotter than the Countryside

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This piece from Smithsonian Mag explores the science behind why concrete jungles generally log hotter temperatures than rural locations in the same part of the world:

There are plenty of reasons why cities are hotter. All those people, their buildings and the machinery inside create heat. Air conditioning, for example, can raise temperatures by more than 1°C, Arizona State University researchers reported last month. Buildings and other structures can store more heat during the day than plants; at night, they emit some of that heat, contributing to warmer temperatures when it’s dark out. Cities might also have less reflectiveness, which would let them soak up more of the Sun’s heat.

But most researchers have considered the biggest contributor to the urban heat island effect to be the reduction in evaporation that occurs when plants are replaced by concrete. That evaporation, the thinking goes, absorbs energy and keeps the countryside cooler.

Read more.


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