New Study Ranks the Urban Heat Island Effect in U.S. Cities

A new analysis by Climate Central evaluates the intensity of urban heat islands in cities around the United States—New Orleans tops the list.

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July 15, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

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Austin Censor / Unsplash

"The nonprofit research group Climate Central analyzed land cover in 160 cities, looking at things like the amount of pavement versus trees, population density and the heights and types of buildings to give each city a heat "index" or intensity score," explains an article by Barbara Moran.

Moran's coverage is focusing on Boston, which finished sixth on the heat index. New Orleans, Newark, and New York are the top three cities on the index.

"Jen Brady, a senior data analyst with Climate Central, said that scientists' understanding of urban heat has been evolving rapidly, and growing more sophisticated. To crunch the data for this study, she used a formula developed in 2020 that looked at 17 classes of land cover, and weighed certain heat contributors like reflective surface or 'albedo' higher than others, like population density," adds Moran.

Moran also points out the Climate Central study adds to a growing body of work finding evidence that heat disparities break down in along racial and class lines all over the United States.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021 in WBUR

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