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Publication date: Feb. 15, 2006


With energy issues grabbing headlines following President Bush's 2006 State of the Union speech, it's a good time to write about a localized topic that officials and the public can do something about urban heat islands.

For years, it's been generally known that larger urban areas can be 5-10 degrees warmer than the nearby countryside. The increased simmer can cause problems such as higher energy use for cooling, heat stress on humans, and increased pollution as airborne chemicals cook.

Now NASA researchers have come out with more hard information about viable solutions. Based on the results of a study conducted in 2002 of many areas of New York City, they have concluded that two of the simple solutions proposed in years past increased use of light-colored roofs, and increased planting of trees likely will be the most effective in damping down the heat. They presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, held Jan. 29-Feb. 2, 2006, in Atlanta.

But planting appropriate trees is critical. EPA researchers have found that emissions from a number of species, such as oaks, maples, cottonwoods, pines, citrus, and eucalyptus, can significantly increase ozone.

Other urban heat island and urban forestry resources include:

Last revised January 22, 2013

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