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Living Green

Temperatures rise as cities spread outwards

Temperatures rise as cities spread outwards
The study focused on the urban heat island effect’s impact on the temperatures in and around Sydney.

The sprawl of the concrete jungle has brought higher temperatures to the urban area.

A study from the University of New South Wales found that the expansion of concrete and asphalt on the fringes of cities could raise temperatures by as much as 3.7 degrees by the year 2050.

The temperature rise is due to the urban heat island effect, where heat is stored and accumulated by urban structures. Urban structures also hinder evaporation and its cooling effect, contributing to heating.

New areas on the fringes of the cities were found to be the most prone to temperature increases due to the urban heat island effect.

The study focused on Sydney, but the researchers believe that there are lessons for cities across Australia as the mechanisms that cause warmer temperatures in Sydney are similar to those found in many other cities.

The researchers found that Sydney’s urban fringes could see temperatures rise between 1.1 and 3.7 degrees Celsius, while the rural areas near new suburbs could see increases between 0.8 and 2.6 degrees. Existing urban areas closer to the central business district will also see likely rises of between 1.1 and 2.5 degrees.

“Interestingly, we found that overnight temperatures increased far more than temperatures during the day," said the study’s lead author Dr Daniel Argueso.

Accumulated heat is released during the night, which is why nighttime temperatures increase even more than daytime temperatures.

“This has implications for health problems related to heat stress accumulation and at an economic level where the higher energy consumption needed to power air conditioning overnight may lead to higher power bills," said Mr. Argueso.

The finding of the study could provide a valuable tool to help urban planners develop better cities and environments for future generations to live in. Changes to planning guidelines could ease the heat impact and also make a city more livable.

“Current research shows that along with other strategies, green spaces, street trees and bodies of water can have a marked effect on reducing urban heat island,” said Dr. Paul Osmond from U.N.S.W.’s Faculty of Built Environment.

“Not only do these help keep suburbs cooler, there is also a knock-on effect where these places gain social advantages through additional amenities and recreational areas,” he added. – EcoSeed Staff

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