Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Assesses Strategies To 'Turn Off The Heat' In New York City

Date:
January 30, 2006
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
The "heat is on" in New York City, whether it's summer or winter. This is due to a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect that causes air temperatures in New York City and other major cities to be warmer than in neighboring suburbs and rural areas. And, in a big city, warmer air temperatures can impact air quality, public health and the demand for energy.

A thermal satellite image of New York City captured by NASA’s Landsat satellite on August 14, 2002 at 10:30 a.m., shows the locations of the warmest air temperatures as seen in red. The blue indicates areas with cooler air temperatures.
Credit: NASA

The "heat is on" in New York City, whether it’s summer or winter. This is due to a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect that causes air temperatures in New York City and other major cities to be warmer than in neighboring suburbs and rural areas. And, in a big city, warmer air temperatures can impact air quality, public health and the demand for energy.

Related Articles


Recently, several innovative approaches developed by scientists, public officials, environmental activists, community organizations and others have been put in place to take a bite out of the Big Apple's temperature problem. NASA researchers, using NASA satellite observations, weather pattern data and computer models, have recently assessed how well those strategies are working. Their study results will be discussed during the 2006 American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 29 through Feb. 2.

"We need to help public officials find the most successful ways to reduce the heat island effect in New York. With ever-increasing urban populations around the world, the heat island effect will become even more significant in the future," said Stuart Gaffin, an associate research scientist at Columbia University, New York, and a co-author of the new NASA study. "The summertime impacts are especially intense with the deterioration of air quality, because higher air temperatures increase ozone. That has health effects for everyone. We also run an increased risk of major heat waves and blackouts as the heat island effect raises demand for electricity."

In cities, the urban heat island effect is caused by the large number of buildings, sidewalks and other non-natural surfaces that limit the amount of land covered with vegetation like grass and trees. Land surfaces with vegetation offer high moisture levels that cool the air when the moisture evaporates from soil and plants.

In large cities, land surfaces with vegetation are relatively few and are replaced by non-reflective, water-resistant surfaces such as asphalt, tar and building materials that absorb most of the sun's radiation. These surfaces hinder the natural cooling that would otherwise take effect with the evaporation of moisture from surfaces with vegetation. The urban heat island occurrence is particularly pronounced during summer heat waves and at night when wind speeds are low and sea breezes are light. During these times, New York City's air temperatures can rise 7.2 degrees F higher than in surrounding areas.

In the recent project, NASA researchers set out to recommend ways to reduce the urban heat island effect in New York City. They looked at strategies such as promoting light-colored surfaces such as roofs and pavements that reflect sunlight, planting "urban forests" and creating "living roofs" on top of buildings where sturdy vegetation can be planted and thrive. Using a regional climate computer model, the researchers wanted to calculate how these strategies lower the city’s surface and close-to-surface air temperatures and what the consequences of these strategies would be on New York's energy system, air quality and the health of its residents.

The researchers conducted a city-wide case study over the summer of 2002 to measure changes in air temperatures. They also used six smaller case studies during the same period in places like Lower Manhattan, the Bronx's Fordham section, Brooklyn's Crown Heights section and the Maspeth section of Queens. The areas were chosen for the different ways land is used and their nearness to areas with high electrical use. They also had warmer-than-average near-surface air temperatures called "hot spots" and boasted available spaces to test ways to reduce the urban heat island effect.

"We found that vegetation is a powerful cooling mechanism. It appears to be the most effective tool to reduce surface temperatures," Gaffin said. "Another effective approach is a man-made approach to cooling by making very bright, high albedo, or reflected light, on roof tops. These light-colored surfaces, best made using white coatings, reflect the sun's light and thereby, its heat. Interestingly, more area is available to create the lighter surfaces than to add vegetation in a city such as New York."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Assesses Strategies To 'Turn Off The Heat' In New York City." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060130152225.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2006, January 30). NASA Assesses Strategies To 'Turn Off The Heat' In New York City. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060130152225.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Assesses Strategies To 'Turn Off The Heat' In New York City." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060130152225.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Amazon Complains U.S. Is Too Slow To Regulate Drones

Amazon Complains U.S. Is Too Slow To Regulate Drones

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) Days after getting approval to test certain commercial drones, Amazon says the Federal Aviation Administration is dragging its feet on the matter. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Wants to Export Its Steel Problem

China Wants to Export Its Steel Problem

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) China is facing a crisis with a glut of steel and growing public anger over the pollution created by production. In a move to solve the problem, some steel mills are looking to relocate overseas. Jane Lanhee Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Stays on Its Feet Despite Punishment

Robot Stays on Its Feet Despite Punishment

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 24, 2015) Robotic engineers have modelled a two-legged robot to be fast and agile like an ostrich. The design is more efficient and stable than bipedal robots built to move like humans, according to its creators who abuse the poor machine to test its skills. Ben Gruber has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins