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Scientists discover effective method to combat urban heat islands

Scientists discover effective method to combat urban heat islands

Image source: © canva
Marta Grzeszczuk,
03.04.2024 15:45

The urban heat island effect exacerbates hot weather in urban areas. However, researchers in Singapore have found a way to counteract this phenomenon partially.

Approximately three-quarters of the European population resides in urban areas. This percentage is expected to rise in the upcoming years despite the fact that climate change is more evident in cities, where temperatures tend to be higher than in non-urban areas during hot seasons. This occurs because heat gets trapped between tall buildings and is absorbed by vast amounts of asphalt and concrete. Later, it is released back into the atmosphere, resulting in the phenomenon known as the urban ‘heat island’ effect.

Scientists know how to deal with urban heat islands

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore are testing an innovative and uncomplicated way to deal with heat accumulation. They covered roofs, walls and pavements in an industrial area of nearly six million people in this city-state with a special paint containing additives that reflect the sun's heat.

The study published in the journal Sustainable Cities and Society in March revealed that paint could play a vital role in making urban areas more comfortable in a warming world. According to Euronews, the researchers covered a significant city area with cooling paint and compared the temperatures and comfort levels with an unpainted neighbouring area. Over the course of two months, they measured air movement, surface and air temperature, humidity, and radiation. They found that the coated area experienced up to a 30% reduction in heat released from the built-up surfaces.

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Cooling paint works. Are urban heat islands no longer a threat?

Paint containing additives that reflect the sun's heat successfully reduced heat absorption and emission. Compared to conventional roofs, roofs coated with cooling paint reflected 50% more sunlight and absorbed up to 40% less heat during the hottest period of a sunny day. The painted area also became more comfortable for pedestrians, with a temperature that was about 1.5 degrees Celsius cooler. The level of thermal comfort was measured using the Universal Thermal Climate Index, which considers temperature, relative humidity, thermal radiation, and wind speed.

"With global warming, people will increasingly look for ways to stay cool," says lead scientist, Associate Professor Wan Man Pun. "Our study validates how cool paint coatings can be a strategy to reduce the urban heat island effect in future."

In further research, the NTU team will focus on testing the durability of the cooling paint coating.

Source: euronews.com

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