Urban Heat Island

What is Urban Heat Island Effect?

Areas with a high concentration of impervious surfaces (such as asphalt, concrete, buildings, etc.) are correlated to higher ambient air temperatures because they more effectively absorb and trap heat. These areas are known as Urban Heat Islands and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, heat island can impact a community’s environment and quality of life in multiples including increased energy consumption, elevated emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, compromised human health and comfort, and impaired water quality.

Studies show that the best way to counteract Urban Heat Island effect is to plan for green infrastructure. GWRC did a study on green infrastructure feasibility in PD16: read more here.


2022 UHI Study

Produced for the GWRC by Friends of the Rappahannock in 2022 through DEQ grants

Friends of the Rappahannock conducted the study by coordinating 37 volunteers who obtained 320 air temperature measurements at 20 sample sites within Planning District 16 on July 10, 2022. These samples were then put into a Random Forest model in ArcGIS Pro (an ESRI product). The model was used to extrapolate temperatures across the region, ultimately identifying non-heat islands, heat islands, and urban heat islands. The data found that 3.57% of the landmass of Planning District 16 (approximately 32,700 acres) can be classified as an EPA defined Urban Heat Island. Geographically the results were clustered in Fredericksburg and surrounding areas into Stafford and Spotsylvania. However, a notable exception is north Stafford (which recorded the highest temperature in the study at 104℉, a 17-degree difference from typical forestland temperatures)—see map for more information. Other hotspots included the Route 17 corridor in Stafford County; Central Park and Celebrate Virginia South in Fredericksburg; the Spotsylvania Towne Center and Cosner’s Corner in Spotsylvania County; and Dahlgren and the King George Landfill/Birchwood Power complex in King George County.

To learn more about the impacts of Urban Heat Islands, you are invited to attend an Urban Heat Island Community Listening Session. FOR and GWRC are holding these public meetings to gather information from community members and stakeholders about ways in which they have been impacted by Urban Heat Island and what next steps can be taken to address these impacts.

Attend an Urban Heat Island Listening Session on Feb 22nd at 10 am or Mar 9th at 6pm. See more at Public Notices

Joint Press Release 1/13/2023