Urban Heat Islands

Climate change is expected to bring hotter summers to Pittsburgh. Participants explore causes of high and low surface temperatures in cities and discuss solutions to keep Pittsburgh cool.

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  • Built Infrastructure
  • Land Use
  • Temperature Increase


How to Get this Kit

If you would like to borrow a CUSP climate change education kit, contact Pat McShea at Please make requests at least one week in advance. Loans may be scheduled up to two months in advance.

Big Questions

  • What are urban heat islands? Why are cities hotter?
  • How do different surfaces result in different temperatures?

User Reviews

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Learn More

Extensive clusters of buildings, roads, parking lots, and other urban infrastructure absorb and reflect heat in a different manner than open land and vegetation. This effect causes urban areas to become warmer than their rural surroundings, forming a higher temperature “island” in the broader landscape. Learn more

Average air temperatures in large cities can be 1.8-5.4°F than surrounding areas, and evening temperatures can reach 22°F warmer. Learn more: EPA: Heat Islands