Urban Heat Island

What is Urban Heat Island Effect?

The urban heat island effect (UHIE) is the resulting temperature difference between urban and surrounding rural areas. This phenomenon occurs from patterns of urban development from the changes of vegetated, permeable land areas into urban landscapes dominated by dark and impervious surfaces that absorb a higher amount of solar radiation. This causes the urban areas to become warmer than less dense areas.

Temperature variance due to the UHIE in different zones across a municipality, as detailed below

Temperature variance due to the UHIE in different zones across a municipality (as seen above): 29 degrees Celsius (°C)/85 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) for rural farmland; 31 to 32°C/88 to 89°F for commercial; 33°C/92°F for downtown urban; 30 to 31°C/86 to 88°F for suburban residential; 30°C/86°F for parks

How is it impacting Windsor?

Due to the City of Windsor’s climate trends, urban design and large amount of industrial land use, there is a strong UHIE that combines with extreme heat to present a considerable health risk to residents. As the southernmost city in Canada, Windsor’s humid continental climate results in warm summer temperatures. As a result, Windsor records the greatest number of days annually with the humidex reaching 35°C or higher.

What is happening to Urban Parks and Playgrounds?

Urban parks are known to provide an escape from the summer heat due to the presence of vegetation and shade. Trees, shrubs, and grass can create lower air temperatures leading to more comfortable areas for residents, especially during the summer months. This allows the public to engage in activities that can benefit their health and overall well-being. Despite this, parks are not immune to climate change and the urban heat island effect; increasing temperatures and poor design can lead to “hot zones” within parks and playgrounds. Climate change continues to influence UHIE severity and impacts including urban park temperatures, decreasing comfort levels, and an overall negative effect on surrounding communities.

The Urban Heat Island Report gives an in-depth look at Windsor's Vulnerability and Mitigation Strategies.

Improving Thermal Comfort in Windsor gives an in-depth look at the affects of the heat on Urban Parks and Playgrounds.

For more information on environmental initiatives:

Phone: For general information, call 311. For detailed inquiries, call 519-255-6100 ext. 6127.