A scientific finding by NASA researchers is giving hints about how scorching heat in urban areas can be curbed. It turns out that lack or reduced vegetative coverage in cities is a cause for the usually hot temperatures compared to neighboring vegetated areas. As such, the problem of high urban temperatures can be addressed by increasing vegetation in the cities.

For a long time, scientists have noted that temperatures in the cities are usually higher compared to the adjacent rural areas. However, it was not clearly known who vegetation played a role in creating what is called urban heat island, but a new study has unraveled the mystery.

Impact of urbanization

In a study that sought to analyze the impact of urbanization in the U.S., NASA scientists established that presence of vegetation was helping rural areas to stay cool. And a lack of the same handles the high temperatures in the cities. For that reason, urban heating can be limited by having more vegetative coverage.

Findings have shown that temperatures in the city can be 1.9oC higher than the neighboring rural areas during summer and 1.5oC higher during winter. The higher temperatures in the cities in summer explain the usually high energy demands because the need for air conditioning.

It has been explained that when temperatures rise by 1-degree Celsius, energy demands for air conditioning goes up significantly. Higher energy demands mean more pressure on the environment because of greenhouse emissions.

As such, city planners can promote more vegetation in cities to limit urban heat island effect and lower energy demands.

Why it is Cool in the Rural?

During the day, photosynthesis in plans produces water as a by-product, which evaporates into the atmosphere to bring about cooling effect. In places where there are many plants with large leaves, more water is produced through photosynthesis thus deeper cooling. With few plants in the urban, less water is released into the atmosphere, which explains the urban heat island effect.