The tendency of cities to trap heat — a phenomenon called the “urban heat island,” often referred to as the UHI effect — can lead to dangerous temperatures in the summer months, but new Penn State research suggests that certain urban factors can reduce this effect.

The study found that trees had a cooling effect on outdoor air temperature, mean radiant temperature and predicted mean vote index, a measurement designed to evaluate thermal comfort levels.

Additionally, the researchers determined that higher building-height-to-street-width ratios — when taller buildings create shade for thinner adjacent streets — as well as pavement that is better at reflecting sunlight, or having higher “albedo,” both led to lower mean radiant temperature and greater comfort levels.

Source: ENN

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