ArqBahia responds: What is a Heat Island?

Escrito por Thiago Pinheiro

ArqBahia team of authors.

Hey guys! Today we are going to talk about a climate phenomenon that occurs in medium and large cities: the Heat Island. Have you heard about this? If not, don't worry, we are here to solve this mystery.

What is the Heat Island?

Heat Island is a climate phenomenon of anthropic origin, that is, caused by human action, and is characterized by an increase in temperature in densely urbanized areas. Now, you may be wondering: why exactly does this happen?

Intense changes in the urban environment

One of the main reasons for this increase in temperature is related to the intense changes that urban areas undergo in comparison to the natural environment. In the central areas of cities, these changes are even more intense. The structure of cities is made up of materials that absorb a significant amount of heat, such as concrete on sidewalks, buildings and asphalt on traffic roads.

Furthermore, the circulation of motor vehicles in central areas contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases. These gases have the ability to absorb sunlight and retain infrared radiation, which creates the well-known greenhouse effect. The verticalization of cities, due to the large number of buildings, hinders atmospheric circulation and the dispersion of gases. Adding to all this, we have a shortage of green areas and bodies of water, elements that would help cool the environment.

All these intense transformations in the urban environment result in the absorption of a large amount of heat, which cannot dissipate properly. As a consequence, central areas of cities have higher temperatures compared to less urbanized areas and rural areas.

History and impact in Brazil

The observation of an increase in temperature in urban areas was first recorded in 1818, in London, United Kingdom, by researcher Luke Howard. Subsequently, other studies carried out in different parts of the world confirmed the phenomenon and its causes. In Brazil, geographer Magda Lombardo was one of the pioneers in the study of Heat Islands in the city of São Paulo.

Changes in the microclimate, in addition to rising temperatures, also affect the evaporation process, interfering with the dynamics of rainfall in urban areas.

How to reverse the Heat Island scenario?

The good news is that it is possible to reverse this scenario. Urban planning plays a fundamental role in this process. Most cities have grown without adequate planning, but some simple solutions can make a positive impact on urbanized areas.

Initiatives such as the afforestation of roads, the creation of green areas with the construction of public parks, the protection of forests and water courses, the installation of green roofs and control of the number of vehicles to reduce environmental pollution are measures that can help combat Heat Islands.

However, the most crucial point is to promote orderly city planning. Land occupation control mechanisms that encourage the formation of green and sustainable cities are essential. This perspective is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 11, whose goals must be achieved by the year 2030.


In short, Heat Islands are a real challenge in our cities, but with appropriate actions and conscious urban planning, we can mitigate their effects and create healthier and more sustainable urban environments. And remember to leave a like if you liked this content. To the next!

ReP USP – Record detail: Heat island in metropolises, the example of São Paulo

Heat islands in São Paulo: Hot spots in the city | Super (

Rate this post

Leave a Comment