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Spring Weather by Mariano Huaman- CITY-TECH BLOGGERS

This winter season, many people in New York City have been dealing with crazy weather. The enjoyment of balmy weather in the past week has led most to believe that winter was over. However, two days after the beginning of Spring, temperatures were predicted to decrease again into the 20s range Fahrenheit. Also, a snowstorm hit the Midwest and part of the tristate area according to the weather forecasters. These were the last three days of winter and the next days of Spring seem warm but wet.

The above article gives us an idea of how the weather can change drastically, including how climate change is affecting season patterns every year.

 

 
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Earth as Art at the Heckscher Musuem

Our planet has inspired artists even before the Lascaux cave paintings were made over 20,000 years ago, inspiring those to draw celestial lines between the stars to create constellations to the 20th century earthwork sculpture “Spiral Jetty” in Utah by American sculptor Robert Smithson. A new art show, Earth Muse: Art and the Environmentis exhibiting work by several artists who share their unique vision of earth’s beauty. The show is at the Heckscher Musuem in Huntington, Long Island through July 30, 2017.

Sea Change series

Sea Change series by Melissa Fleming

One of the artists in the show is a ClimateYou pal, artist Melissa Fleming, who founded The Weather Gamut, a website focusing on weather and climate change and other weather related phenomena. Fleming is showing 13 of her palladium photograms of ocean waves from her Sea Change series, work that lyrically portrays movement at sea, inviting us to a unique view of the universal patterns of water, light and air. Fleming’s artwork has been exhibited and collected internationally. The show also includes evocative aerial images of Long Island waters by Alex Ferrone, topographical constructions of the Adirondacks by Winn Rea, and photographs by Barbara Roux that encourage an alternate experience of familiar landscapes, while works by Michelle Stuart, Peter Beard, and Brandon Ballengée reflect on man’s place within nature and our impact on the environment.  A companion exhibition of Thaddeus Holownia’s monumental photographs of the forest at Walden Pond continues the meditative theme.

The Heckscher Museum of Art
2 Prime Avenue
Huntington, NY 11743

 
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Urban Heat Island: An Environmental and Public Health Crisis by ClimateYou blogger Paul Rivers

With the coming impacts of climate change it is important that government agencies begin to address the forms of city infrastructure that prolong hot weather conditions. Climate change will result in increasing air temperatures in city areas, exposing residents to harmful high temperatures. It is well documented that cities around the world experience what is known as an Urban Heat Island or UHI effect. This phenomenon takes advantage of the energy absorption in building materials. Impermeable surfaces like concrete, tall buildings, black roofs, and the lack of dominant vegetation and parks contribute to an enhanced absorption and release of heat derived from sunlight. The combination of debilitating UHI heat stress and underlying climate change warming will put real strains on urban resident health and well-being. Researchers on UHI are Stuart R. Gaffin, Cynthia Rosenzweig with the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, and Reza Khanbilvardi, who is affiliated with and City College’s Department of Civil Engineering & Earth and Environmental Sciences. According to their 2009 study, “heat island intensity in many urban areas is already comparable to the amount of warming expected regionally over the next century”. This highlights urban areas as the next battleground for confronting climate change.

urban heat island graph

Several academic and governmental institutions have published studies that form a reliable consensus on the dangers of UHI. A study by researchers at Arizona State University stated that “when coupled with these [global surface temperature] increases local warming from UHI intensifies the climate discomfort of urban residents and increases their vulnerability to heat stress”. The urban heat island effect impacts the city in a number of ways including air pollution management and heat stress. A study by K. Vikayaraghavan, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, cited that “urban air often contains elevated levels of pollutants that are harmful to human health and environment”. Air pollutants can include nitrous oxides, ozone and particulates. Clark, Adriaens & Talbot, three researchers at the University of Michigan, found that “Nitrogen oxides (NO­x) alone or in combination with other air pollutants such as ozone, sulfur oxides, and particulate materials (PM) can cause respiratory diseases and increase the risk of heart attacks”. How does this problem impact New York City?

Gaffin, Khanbilvardi & Rosenzweig found that New York City has a predominantly nocturnal heat island, during which temperatures between the city and rural surroundings can average 2.5°C. This is consistent with the way urban building materials absorb energy. A ‘nocturnal heat island’ responds to heat stored in building materials during the day, which is then released at night.  Hanson & Schmidt, authors affiliated with the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, argue that conventional building materials absorb and retain heat from sunlight during the day and then release that stored heat at night. The absorption of sunlight and heat during the daytime can increase the discomfort of pedestrians. It also prolongs high temperatures throughout the night, when conditions are normally cooler. The nocturnal heat island forces city residents to endure higher temperatures without a nighttime cooling period. This also necessitates an increased reliance on air conditioning and electric cooling systems. Urban heat island challenges the ability of cooling systems and electricity providers to perform in a sustainable and efficient manner. Hanson & Schmidt outline that black rooftops in New York City can reach intense temperatures, up to 170°F on hot summer days. Air conditioning or HVAC systems which are often located on roofs use massive amounts of energy to cool this superheated air. The increased operation of non-renewable electric utilities to provide this power further contributes to air pollution, climate change, and urban heat island. This feedback cycle is dangerous to the future of our cities. Clark, Adriaens & Talbot argue that the combination of urban heat island and emissions from the electric utility industry impacts not only local but regional air quality. The researchers also stress that city-derived warming and pollution will strengthen the urban heat island resulting in increased heat stressed mortality and illness.

The lack of vegetation, a contributor to UHI, is a symptom of human behavior and can be attributed to the conversion of vegetative suburbs to strictly urban cities. Land use decisions which promote the replacement of natural soils and vegetation, which would allow for cooling, with impervious surfaces like those in cities, lead to a reduced evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration is a process that relies on the presence of moisture released by plants to cool the surrounding area. Another variable, albedo, also plays a big impact. Albedo represents the reflectivity of a surface, and is also a principal factor. Vegetative surfaces have more moisture than rooftops, and a higher albedo than many darker urban materials like tar roofs. Therefore, they reflect more solar radiation and help shade people and public spaces.

Many of the factors that strengthen UHI emanate from the form and material of urban sites themselves, which makes it difficult to address. Cities suffer from concerns of spatial fixity, which represents the immovability of a built-up landscape . We cannot reasonably remove already existing tall buildings, or dredge up impermeable concrete roads because they inhibit cooling processes or absorb heat. We can however, transition and amend these features to work more harmoniously with natural cooling cycles. It is here that greenroof technology can address the sources of urban heat island, provide direct solutions to air pollution, and effect greater cooling on heat stressed areas. Check for the next upcoming article in this series with more information on how greenroofs and other technologies can help mitigate UHI!

 
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EARTH DAY’S MARCH FOR SCIENCE April 22, 2017

The March for Science is happening this coming Saturday, April 22, (EARTH DAY) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Global organizing started in January and on Saturday, over 400 satellite marches are planned worldwide.

march for science2

Information about the march is here, and http://bit.ly/2nZjyGc  http://bit.ly/2ncAFHz . Click here to find a march in your area. In New York City the march starts at 10:30 at 64th Street and Central Park West. There are 18 satellite marches happening throughout New York State. https://www.marchforscience.com/rsvp?state=NY

The biggest march is planned for Washington D.C., but there is an option to do a virtual march. If you go to any of these marches, please post a comment here on your experience. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 
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Reversing Climate Change by City-Tech Blogger Henry Ovalle

Today, by just spreading the word here on ClimateYou, I am helping out Warm Heat, a nonprofit organization based in Thailand, with a project that they have initiated to help put an end to climate change by using a method called Biochar. Biochar is charcoal used as a soil amendment and is used as a means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biochar is a stable solid and rich in carbon, which helps the soil to stay in the same condition for many years.

warm heat 2

Warm Heat is an organization that helps farmers to test the performance of new fertilizers and agricultural techniques. Their work can have a huge impact on reversing global warming by using biochar and by spreading the word about the benefits of switching to biochar.

 
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