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City heat maps reveal the worrisome reality of urban living during the summer months: 'I guess we'll visit … in the fall'

Around 80% of the U.S. population lives in cities with this prominent effect.

Urban heat island during the summer months

Photo Credit: iStock

Have you ever wondered why some areas in a city feel hotter than others? 

Well, the nonprofit organization Climate Central has mapped out dozens of city spaces using temperature data to show which neighborhoods are typically warmer. 

You can now check out the data and associated visual maps for 44 United States cities to see the wildly ranging temperatures from different areas of highly populated cities. 

According to Climate Central, around 80% of the U.S. population lives in cities, where the "heat island" effect is most prominent. 

The EPA defines the urban heat island effect as a phenomenon in which city temperatures are much higher because "heat-absorbing" infrastructure such as buildings and roads have replaced green spaces that keep us cool. 

This absorbed heat then radiates back into the environment, making highly built-up neighborhoods hotter than surrounding areas.

For example, Climate Central noted that if there were a 95-degree day in northern Texas, people in parts of Dallas where downtown areas have a nine-degree urban heat island index, would experience temperatures closer to 104 degrees. 

Of the 44 cities analyzed, 41 million people live in census tracts that experience a UHI of at least eight degrees. 

Over three-quarters of New York City residents live in a heat island area that raises temperatures by at least eight degrees, The City observed. Some of those neighborhoods have boosted temperatures of well over 10 degrees. 

"East New York and East Williamsburg in Brooklyn, [and] Throggs Neck and Hunts Point in the Bronx and Midtown Manhattan" have some of the largest UHI effects, The City reported. 

The Verge has also examined temperature differences in different areas of New York City using a thermal camera, with surface temperatures in East Harlem seeing readings that were 20 degrees hotter than the Upper East Side.

With this in mind, it can lead some to reconsider their travel plans. "I guess we'll visit Chicago in the fall then …" one user commented on The Verge's website.

With global temperatures rising due to excessive carbon pollution, cities must protect neighborhoods and residents from extreme heat. Climate Central recommends planting more trees and installing "cool roofs" and "cool pavements."

Individuals can also do their part to reduce their environmental impact by investing in clean energy solutions, such as solar panels and heat pumps, both of which seriously lower energy bills.

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