Climate Central researchers found that nine major cities — New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, San Diego, Phoenix and Detroit — each housed at least 1 million people currently affected by the urban heat island effect.
In New York City the group found that nearly 80%of the city’s population experience temperatures that are at least 8F warmer than in a nonurban area. Houston was next, with 73%of the residents experiencing such heat islands.
Some smaller areas in each city see even higher temperatures. In Miami, 2% of the city’s population experiences temperatures 12 F warmer than nonurban areas.
Experts studying urban heat islands say the issue has important implications for both health and equity. Jeffrey Schlegelmilch is the Director of Columbia Climate School’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. He said that higher temperatures in cities can worsen medical conditions, and may even lead to heat-related death.
“The urban heat island effect tends to impact poorer neighborhoods, majority-minority neighborhoods,” Schlegelmilch said. The areas which tend to be hotter do not have the funds to build well-insulated homes or plant trees. They’re more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.”
Evan Mallen, a senior analyst for the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Urban Climate Lab, said the Climate Central analysis is an important launchpad for sparking more research on urban heat islands, though more work needs to be done to understand how to address the issue.
Trudeau suggested that some possible solutions included planting more green space in cities, using white paint on roofs and walls to reflect heat and using cooling materials such as concrete and asphalt for sidewalks and pavements.
The article More 40 people live in U.S. urban heat islands than any other climate group, according to first appeared on NBC News .