This past summer was the hottest one on record for the Northern Hemisphere, where 90% of the Earth’s population lives.1Rice, Doyle. “It Was the Hottest Summer on Record for the Northern Hemisphere.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 16 Sept. 2019, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/16/global-warming-earth-had-second-hottest-summer-record/2342104001/. In France alone, the mortalities of 1,435 people were linked to a pair of heat waves that occurred in June and July 2019.2United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2018). The World’s Cities in 2018—Data Booklet (ST/ESA/ SER.A/417). As our planet warms, we must be prepared to deal with the fallout of rising temperatures. More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, which places an enormous amount of pressure on how we should design and run our cities in order to deal with urban heat.3Berlinger, Joshua. 2019. “Nearly 1,500 Deaths Linked to French Heat Waves.” CNN. Cable News Network. September 9, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/08/europe/france-heat-wave-deaths-intl-hnk-scli/index.html. In cities, the urban heat island effect puts some residents at greater risk to the detrimental effects of extreme heat. The urban heat island effect is a phenomenon where some urban areas are significantly higher in temperature than surrounding rural areas.4U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2008. Reducing urban heat islands: Compendium of strategies. Draft. https://www.epa.gov/heat-islands/heat-island-compendium.
In order to understand the causes and effects of this phenomenon, and to generate practical and impactful solutions to its hazardous outcomes, I spent this summer examining the ways urban heat island impacts the city of Montreal. Evidence was drawn from academic papers, current policies, interviews with stakeholders, census data analysis, and roundtable discussions, and then compiled into an accessible web page called Urban Heat in Montreal. Check it out for a quick and clear read on what urban heat looks like in Montreal and how to tackle it.