Researchers: Urban heat island effect more severe than global warming

Global Institute of Sustainability's research is profiled in a recent State Press article. State Climatologist Nancy Selover and Senior Sustainability Scientist Nalini Chhetri both warn that the urban heat island effect, especially in the Valley, may have quicker repercussions than global warming.

Since development in the Phoenix metropolian area exploded in the 1970s, the urban heat island effect has taken its toll.

“Now, because of the heat island, we are seeing nighttime temperatures in the low 90s a lot more than we used to,” Selover says.  “The record high at night is 96, and we’re hoping we don’t end up seeing it go above that.”

So what can people do? Chhetri advises implementing xeriscapes, providing shade whenever possible, and planting native trees to help mitigate the higher temperatures, which can prove fatal to the elderly, homeless, and low-income populations.

“It’s a combination of technology and lifestyle changes and disseminating knowledge, information, and awareness,” she says.  “We must not force people to make decisions or give them doomsday scenarios.”

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