I was recently writing a report on the city of Tokyo which is the capital of Japan. Now, Japan is a series of islands. (Who would have thought the mighty Japan is only a group of islands?) but I digress.
Back to the report, the city identified air pollution and heat island effect as the two major environmental issues they face. I mean, I had heard about heat island but I never really regarded it as a big deal, I did not live on an island anyway, so why bother? As the report required, I had to do some further research and I thought it would be nice to share some of the things I found.
Before I get into it, ‘HEAT ISLAND IS NOT PECULIAR TO ISLANDS’
Yup, I said it. More than anything it is more peculiar to urban areas and cities. So if you live in a city, this is more useful to you than living on the island. It describes a phenomenon where the average temperature of a city area is higher than the surrounding area. The next question would be to ask why this is so.
For obvious reasons, urban centers are denser and more populated hence they generate more heat due to more human activities. (Machines, heating, cars, etc) but it does not end there. As we know, darker surfaces absorb more heat than brighter surfaces. So tarred roads and buildings contribute to this as well, absorbing a lot of the heat from the sun. This heat diffenference can be as high as 5ºC
Now, what are the possible solutions?
Clearly, decongesting cities is not a plan that is going to work. United Nations already estimates that half of the global population will live in cities by 2050, so more people are definitely moving to the cities.
(Side thought: Do you think rural life will become exotic and fancy in the future? I think we might get to that point people will aspire to live in the suburbs)
One of the easiest solutions is to paint with brighter colours and begin to use the green roof. Take a look at Santorini in Greece! Amazing yea? (This is actually a law in Santorini and Mykonos more as a cultural heritage preservation of their national flag which is white and blue)
We can briefly compare that to a picture of New York city and see the greyness in pictures.
The good old tree planting is also a way to preserve and protect the heat island effect.
This graph shares what the average summer temperature range is for different areas based on the dominant activity in the area.