an urban area that is warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to urban activities and greater heat retention by urban structures and development.
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (August 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
An urban heat island (UHI) is an urban area or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The temperature difference usually is larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. UHI is most noticeable during the summer and winter. The main cause of the urban heat island effect is from the modification of land surfaces.Waste heat generated by energy usage is a secondary contributor. As a population center grows, it tends to expand its area and increase its average temperature. The term heat island is also used; the term can be used to refer to any area that is relatively hotter than the surrounding, but generally refers to human-disturbed areas.
Monthly rainfall is greater downwind of cities, partially due to the UHI. Increases in heat within urban centers increases the length of growing seasons, and decreases the occurrence of weak tornadoes. The UHI decreases air quality by increasing the production of pollutants such as ozone, and decreases water quality as warmer waters flow into area streams and put stress on their ecosystems.
Not all cities have a distinct urban heat island, and the heat island characteristics depend strongly on the background climate the city is situated in . Mitigation of the urban heat island effect can be accomplished through the use of green roofs and the use of lighter-colored surfaces in urban areas, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat.
Concerns have been raised about possible contribution from urban heat islands to global warming. While some lines of research did not detect a significant impact, other studies have concluded that heat islands can have measurable effects on climate phenomena at the global scale.