Cities Will Be Hardest Hit By Global Warming Due To ‘Urban Heat Island’ Effect

A new research suggests that climate change costs for overheated cities are two times greater than the rest of the world. The study details the financial impact, which is the consequence of climate change — also known as “urban heat island” effect.

Researchers from the Vrije University in Amsterdam, the University of Sussex, UK, and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México conducted the new study. The researchers are also accomplished economists and share that the study is significant as most talks revolve on tackling global climate change, but do not highlight the impact of these changes in the local environment.

“Any hard-won victories over climate change on a global scale could be wiped out by the effects of uncontrolled urban heat islands,” University of Sussex’s Richard S.J. shared.

What Is Urban Heat Island Effect?

The urban heat island effect takes place when natural surfaces such as water and vegetation are replaced with concrete and asphalt — substances that trap heat. The condition is worsened by impact of additional heat that is emanated from cars, refrigerators, air conditioners, and many more mad-made electronics.

The researchers predict that the urban heat island effect result in a rise in global warming. This climate change effect will increase the global warming approximations for the world’s most-populated cities by two degrees.

Rise in temperature not only damages life quality, but also negatively impact’s a country’s economy. Higher temperatures lead to more energy usage for cooling, more air pollution, decrease in the water quality, and reduced worker productivity.

Heat Island Effect To Double City Costs: How Was The Study Conducted?

The international team of researchers cum economists are the first to quantify the potentially devastating combined impact of local and global climate change on urban economy. The study takes into consideration all the major cities in the world.

For the study, the researchers conducted a cost-benefit analysis of different policies that were formulated to combat the urban heat island effect. These policies included construction of structures such as the cool pavements and green roofs. The cool pavements reflected sunlight, whereas the green roofs — other than offering respite from heat — also increased vegetation in the cities.

During the analysis, the researchers found that the cheapest method of bringing the urban heat island effect in control was to install green roofs and cool pavements. It was deduced that if 20 percent of a city’s roofs are changed to green ones, along with 50 percent of the pavements getting designed as the “cool” ones, the city administration could save up to 12 times the installation and maintenance costs. If these measures are incorporated into a populated city’s structures, it would also decrease the temperature by approximately 0.8 degrees.

The study evaluated 1,692 cities and found that when heat island effects are factored in, climate change costs for cities in the current century may be 2.6 times higher.

The study’s findings were published in the journal Nature Change Climate on, Monday, May 29.

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