If you have ever noticed that it was hotter in a heavily developed area compared to a mostly natural, nearby area, then you have experienced the “heat island effect”. The heat island effect describes the phenomenon where there are pockets of higher temperatures. The heat island effect mostly occurs in cities, where the built environment absorbs sunlight and radiates heat back into the environment. Since cities have significantly more buildings, roadways, and man-made structures than rural areas, they hold on to more heat than rural areas over a longer period of time.
The heat island effect can have an impact on public health due to extreme heat. Extreme heat can cause heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps, among other health impacts. The higher temperatures also lead to higher energy consumption for cooling. Therefore, addressing the heat island effect would also improve public health and could lead to reducing energy consumption.