Urban Heat Islands and Climate Change
Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.
Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:
Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening
Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction
Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6
Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature
Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.
Preparation Time Needed
<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises.
(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)
The phenomenon of isolated warm city air has been long acknowledged. Recent studies show that this warm air is not staying in one area, that it may be affecting the climate of other regions.
Articles to Share with Students
- National Geographic – Urban Heat May Warm Faraway Places
- The Guardian – Heat from North American Cities Causing Warmer Winters, Study Finds
- The Environmental Expert – Rivers Can Help Reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect
- The Guardian – How Urban Heat Islands are Making India Hotter
- The Encyclopedia of Earth: Heat Island and Urban Climatology
- Environmental Protection Agency: Heat Island Effects and Overview
- National Geographic Education: Urban Heat Island (New York City satellite imagery showing trapped heat)
- The Weather Channel: Urban Heat Island Video
Questions for Classroom Discussion
- Which is generally hotter, an urban or rural area? And why?
- Describe an Urban Heat Island (UHI). How much warmer are these areas compared to the surrounding areas?
- Besides New York and San Francisco, name two additional locations in the Northern Hemisphere that have seen warmer temperatures as a result of heat from urban areas.
- How does urban heat impact cities located at a distance?
- Do you think the UHI have or will have a big impact on global climate change? Why/why not?
- What are some consequences that people may face as a result of urban heating, especially in areas like India?
- If you were an urban designer, what are some plans you might put in place to try to reduce the city heat?
Compiled February 3, 2013, by M. Witter. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.