The Urban Microclimate

Week 8 Lecture by Johnathon Fox

Heatwaves, particularly in the city, have been starting (on average) 2 weeks earlier which is obviously having huge ramifications on a range of issues.

The heating and cooling effects of this are:

  • maladaption
  • rebound effect

The numbers of months that the Air Conditioner is being used in the average household is increasing steadily, and changing the temperature by 1 degree (Celsius) requires a 2 – 5% increase in energy use within the household.

Increase in urban heat also results in an increase in heatwave deaths. The number of deaths as a result of heatwaves is more than deaths due to fire, cyclones, earthquakes and floods COMBINED. To me, this is quite alarming, and a clear issue for concern.

The urban heat island (UHI) effect increases the temperature of the city by up to 10 degrees more than rural towns. This is due to a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which is the inability for appropriate air movement to reduce heat and the lack of vegetation.

The UHI decreases air quality by increasing the production of pollutants such as ozone, and decreases water quality as warmer waters flow into area streams and put stress on their ecosystems. Mitigation of the urban heat island effect can be accomplished through the use of green roofs and the use of lighter-coloured surfaces in urban areas, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat.

Further Reading

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