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Heat islands, urban trees and other cooling solutions for hot cities

Ivana González, Erica Smith Fichman, Kurt Shickman, Sophia Schmidt,


WHYY & Radio times podcast

The podcast talks about how the heat island effect changes in every neighbourhood depending on their canopy cover, asphalt roads etc, and how environmental justice plays a role in such cases. Less canopy cover and higher concrete surfaces radiate the heat. Data regarding heat islands and air pollution in Philly is being gathered to further analyse how it impacts the economy and improves the quality of living in such neighbourhoods. The data support that growing more trees proves beneficial for communities. Poor air quality, people's health, etc were also studied in these neighbourhoods so that the community contributes to the proposed tree plans. Studies say that the tree cover across the cities isn't always equitable across various parts of the city. Planting trees can prove beneficial in more than just mitigating heat island issues. It has economic benefits too as it can have a psychological impact on the consumers. It helps with the stormwater, shade, and streetscapes as well. Street trees, parks, and gardens create a corridor/ network throughout the city adding to the list of benefits.

The speakers discuss planting the right tree at the right spot depending on the conditions of the area. Trees planted along streets need to be more resilient than others since they face more dirt, pollution, etc. Taking care of trees and their maintenance is equally important as growing them. Further in the podcast, the benefits of trees in terms of well-being, mental health, and trust building within the community are also discussed.

Alternately, apart from trees, reducing the use of asphalt and black shingles and dark reflective surfaces for construction materials also contributes to reducing the heat island. Permeable materials for pavements are a part of the solution to the heat island effect.

Tags: Heat island effect, cooling cities

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