AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the last 12 months we’ve had a record warmest December, May and June. Just this past week we’ve seen some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Austin. Is Austin’s growth to blame for these record temperatures?
“Cities definitely experienced hotter temperatures because of the way we’ve altered the environment,” said Dr. Andrew Pershing, the director of Climate Science at Climate Central, a nonprofit climate science analysis and reporting organization.
He and his team found Austin is roughly six degrees warmer than its surroundings due to the urban heat island effect.
Pershing continued, “but that’s only part of the story, we really are seeing a long-term trend toward warmer conditions, just about everywhere, just about every time of year.”
But Austin, as we know, has been growing considerably quickly. “If [it was due to] the fact that Austin was getting crowded, then only Austin would be breaking records, but Texas as a whole has broken a lot of records. And the records are occurring across the spectrum from big cities to small towns to rural areas,” Pershing added.
Jennifer Brady is a senior data analyst at Climate Central. She suggests those who believe growth of a city is solely responsible for our warming climate should look at the one part of Earth without any real development — the oceans.
“They’re actually probably keeping a lot of the heat from the land surfaces. So when you look at charts of ocean temperature growth … it’s just up, up, up, up,” said Brady.
Metros were and are still hotter than their surroundings.
Thankfully, there are some ways we can bring city temperatures down. “Some cities are painting their roads a lighter color or painting the roofs a lighter color to try to increase that reflectivity,” Brady added.
Cities can also add more green spaces to absorb excess heat.