A new Urban Heat Snapshot study analyzing weather and climate extremes in cities across the globe has just been released, and it shares the hottest area in all of NYC! Can you give it your best guess?
2023 has already been a year of extreme heatwaves with record breaking temperatures across China, the UK and beyond. Heatwaves pose as a serious danger to people and the study hopes to better understand the impact of these weather conditions on cities using the UHeat tool by Arup. This tool provides urban planners with the ability to test and try different scenarios to reach supported solutions.
According to the study, the number of cities exposed to temperatures 35°C (95°F) and above are expected to triple by 2050. By removing nature and using materials like concrete, glass and steel to construct urban areas, cities in some ways have been designed to be hotter—much hotter than rural surroundings. Experts address this as the urban heat island (UHI) effect.
To clarify, urban heat islands “occur when cities replace natural land cover with dense concentrations of pavement, buildings, and other surfaces that absorb and retain heat,” explains the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The State of New York experienced seven heatwaves every ten years between 2000 to 2004. The amount of heatwaves could increase to eight every ten years in the next few decades, shares the study.
Upon looking at the peak of a heatwave on August 9th, 2022 specifically in New York, the greatest UHI hot spot was discovered in Washington Heights. The neighborhood is made up of more than 90% hard surfaces with 3% vegetation. For perspective, the coolest spot in NYC (Ferry Point Park) was found to be 4.5°C cooler, consisting of 77% vegetation and close by water features.
15,000 New Yorkers 65 years and older, along with 9,000 children, were estimated to be living in a hot spot that had a UHI equal or above 4°C. It’s important to consider how cities can improve their designs to keep them from overheating and improve safety for residents.
Some ways to mitigate heat in city designs include the addition of tree canopy coverage, more permeable surfaces, space efficiency, cool islands and behavioral change.
Take a further look at the UHeat tool by Arup and the study in regards to other worldwide cities here.