Learn About Heat Islands

Learn About Heat Islands

This EPA webpage explains surface and atmospheric heat islands, and compares conditions at different times of day and in urban vs. rural areas.

Key findings

“On a hot, sunny summer day, the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, to temperatures 50–90°F (27–50°C) hotter than the air, while shaded or moist surfaces—often in more rural surroundings—remain close to air temperatures.”

“The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. On a clear, calm night, however, the temperature difference can be as much as 22°F (12°C).”

“Urban temperatures are typically lower at the urban-rural border than in dense downtown areas.”

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