The heat island effect refers to the fact that urban areas are warmer than nearby rural areas. A city with a million or more people living in it can be up to 5.4 degrees hotter on average than the surrounding rural areas. At night time the difference can be as much as 22 degrees. This increases demands during hot months for air conditioning, and has other negative environmental effects.
The above is all correct (although I believe those figures are probably on the high end, and there is possibly some significant exaggeration/ manipulation of data sets).
I just want to add that part of it is due to the building materials and roofing surfaces in cities which get extremely hot in the sun. Heat gets absorbed by black rooftops (tar and shingles) and it is later then re-radiated back into the local environment. And this can be easily avoided, by doing one of two things: You can use a reflective material or you can plant a green-roof. We need to work together and create new programs and jobs so we can retrofit buildings in cities so they do not contribute to the urban heat island effect. In the future a building will have one of three things on top of it: A solar panel (include thermal), a white reflective surface, or a garden! IT’s GOING TO BE COOL!
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