The Urban Heat Island Effect

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Characteristics of the UHI effect

  • Urban areas are warmer that surrounding rural areas
  • Highest temps are found over industrial areas or above heavily built up areas
  • Areas within the city with the same land use (e.g. Suburbs) tend to have same temps (plateaus)
  • Areas within the city that have natural features (e.g. parks) are cooler (temp sinks)
  • Temperature cliffs are suddden increase in temps when land use becomes more intensive 


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Causes of the UHI effect

  • Heat from anthropogenic activity (human) e.g. central heating and aircon 
  • Absorbtion of heat by urban surfaces e.g. concrete and brick 
  • Heat is released at night meaning UHI more noticable at that time
  • Air pollution from cars and factories creates smog and clouds cover, trapping heat 
  • Less evapotranspiration occurs (requires heat)
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Effect variation of UHI (Seasonally and daily)

  • Rural areas cool quicker tha urban due to urban areas releasing heat at night
  • Most noticable during anticyclonic conditions (clear skies) as more insolation means more heating of urban areas from the sun 
  • Low winds mean that heat cannot be blown away from urban areas
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