[Ok-sus] How the fastest warming city in the US is cooling off.
bwaldrop1952 at att.net
Fri Dec 12 14:11:58 UTC 2014
Louisville could have some lessons for Oklahoma City.
Question: What form of extreme weather kills more people than any other
form in the United States? Heat.
Second question: Does anyone know what the percent of tree cover OKC and
it surrounding communities have?
Bob Waldrop, Okie City
Maria Koetter squints into the sun and points toward the southeast,
surveying Louisville from atop one of its tallest buildings.
“Look at that!” she says.
Sprawled before us are the elements that have shaped this city of
750,000. The Ohio River rolls muddy blue, straddled by bridges and
dissected by barges that crawl through the watery thoroughfare that gave
life to Louisville as a commercial center. Distant hills lush with fall
foliage encircle the city, creating a basin that serves as Louisville’s
foundation. Traffic rumbles in the distance on several of the major
interstates that cross the city, and two coal-fired power plants belch
out smoke in the horizon.
Closer in, a more stark landscape, largely stripped of nature, dominated
by the man-made: The city center is marked by mid- and high-rise
buildings and wide streets originally built for streetcars, but now
functioning as six-lane arteries clogged with cars. Parking lots—dozens
of privately-owned, half-empty parking lots—scar the city center. The
occasional tree seems to pop out of the pavement and struggles to breathe.
“I think you could probably go to a tall building in many cities and see
a boundary where you’re going from the dense urban core to a more
residential area,” says Koetter, who is Louisville’s first director of
sustainability. What Koetter is describing are the physical conditions
that give rise to a phenomenon known as an urban heat island, where a
city’s center experiences significantly hotter temperatures than its
less-developed surroundings. Here’s how it works: During the hottest
times of year, dark or paved areas—whether on roofs or on the
ground—soak up and store heat. These surfaces continue to release this
heat throughout the day and night, preventing the area from cooling down
after sunset. Patchy urban tree canopies struggle to clean the air and
keep temperatures down. The urban heat islands don’t cause air
pollution, but make the effects of pollution worse.
Heat islands aren’t limited to southern or subtropical cities or places
like Miami or Phoenix, known to have scorching summers. Denver,
Portland, Ore., Minneapolis and Seattle are among the top ten cities in
the nation with the most intense urban heat islands, according to a
study released earlier this year by Climate Central, a nonprofit news
organizations that reports on climate matters.
Brian Stone Jr. knows this phenomenon well. Stone is one of the
country’s foremost experts in urban heat; he has made a career of
literally taking the temperature of communities. “Cities essentially
create their own climates,” he says. “And the urban heat island effect
is one way to measure that. There’s a heat island effect, really, in
every large city.”
But in few places is it felt more than in Louisville, sometimes to
Stone’s research found that Louisville is warming at the fastest rate of
any city in the nation, causing summer temperatures in the urban core to
be up to 20 degrees higher than surrounding areas. And the gap continues
to widen. On average, the disparity in temperatures between Louisville’s
city center and outer areas has been growing at a rate of 1.67 degrees
each year—almost twice the rate of Phoenix, which is the second-fastest
http://www.ipermie.net How to permaculture your urban lifestyle and adapt to the realities of peak oil, economic irrationality, political criminality, and climate instability.
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