Skip to content

The Urban Heat Island Effect

Climate Change is expected to make Melbourne hotter. This will have adverse effects on human health, wildlife, agriculture, insect borne diseases and so forth. The importance of parks in tackling the “heat island effect” of cities is striking. This 2008 diagram was sourced from the US Environmental Protection Agency with our highlighting:

parks vs heat island effect

An urban heat island is an urban area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural area due to human impacts. The temperature increase tends to be larger at night and is most noticeable both when winds are weak and during summer and winter.

The main cause of the effect is the modification of land surfaces with waste heat from energy use a secondary contributor. Nearly 40 percent of the increase is believed to be due to the prevalence of dark rooves, with the remainder coming from dark-colored pavement/roads and the declining presence of vegetation.

It stands to reason that a park with a stream would be cooler still. Anecdotally, we know of several locals who regularly walk along KooyongKoot on hot summer nights to refresh themselves because they know it is much cooler there than inside their houses… We also know that parks “lower our temperature” psychologically too.

Anyway, all this underscores the importance of our keeping our streams and parks healthy for the sake of our own health – particularly as our population and building density both grow.