Concrete jungle raises Louisville’s heat island rating - News, Weather & Sports

Concrete jungle raises Louisville’s heat island rating

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Louisville's concrete jungle is taking its toll on the city and its residents. Drivers may have noticed how the thermometers in their vehicles climb as they approach downtown. There is a reason behind the temperature change and it is not a good one.

Louisville is a heat island. In fact, it is the number one heat island in the country. Phoenix ranked second followed by Atlanta. Other major cities like St. Louis and even the great megalopolis New York City rank much further down the list.

So why is Louisville ranked so high? It is actually a recipe of several factors, one being the uniqueness of the Ohio Valley topography. Hills to the north and south help trap air over the urbanized areas and heat it up, which leads to high pollution in the summer.

However there is a way to combat against being the top heat - trees.

The City of Louisville brought Dr. Brian Stone, a professor of urban planning at Georgia Tech University, to discuss heat decreasing options. Dr. Stone came up with the heat island rankings and is the one who said Louisville has one of the warmest urban centers in the world.

"What's unique about Louisville, in particular, is the tree canopy is very sparse. Increasing the tree canopy downtown is the key. We have a commission now that's working on this as well and a tree assessment is going on. This will help address that problem. Anytime we anytime we are displacing natural vegetation with parking lots and roads we're raising temps and that's what's happening in Louisville," he said.

From an aerial view there are several wooded areas in Louisville, until you get to the downtown area. Only 10 percent of downtown has trees. Atlanta, a larger city ranked as a much lower heat island, has more than 40 percent trees downtown.

In order to bring the city to a normal status about one million trees would need to be planted within the city limits. While that isn't feasible, city leaders are working on a plan to use tree planting, combined with more reflective roofs on buildings,  to work toward fixing the issue.

Residents can also help by planting trees on their property, which will also increase the homes property value.

To learn more about heat islands, click here.

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