Urban Heat Island: Mechanisms, Implications, and Possible Remedies

Patrick E. Phelan, Kamil Kaloush, Mark Miner, Jay Golden, Bernadette Phelan, Humberto Silva, Robert A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Urban heat island (UHI) manifests as the temperature rise in built-up urban areas relative to the surrounding rural countryside, largely because of the relatively greater proportion of incident solar energy that is absorbed and stored by man-made materials. The direct impact of UHI can be significant on both daytime and night-time temperatures, and the indirect impacts include increased air conditioning loads, deteriorated air and water quality, reduced pavement lifetimes, and exacerbated heat waves. Modifying the thermal properties and emissivity of roofs and paved surfaces and increasing the vegetated area within the city are potential mitigation strategies. A quantitative comparison of their efficacies and costs suggests that so-called cool roofs are likely the most cost-effective UHI mitigation strategy. However, additional research is needed on how to modify surface emissivities and dynamically control surface and material properties, as well as on the health and socioeconomic impacts of UHI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-307
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
StatePublished - Nov 4 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cost
  • Impact
  • Mitigation
  • Urban heat island

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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