Constructing buildings, sidewalks, parking lots, and roads inadvertently affects local climate. The best studied example of this, the urban heat island (UHI), manifests as elevated temperatures in developed areas compared to less developed areas nearby. This phenomenon affects many things including plants, wildlife, energy consumption, and human health. We assess the UHI at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) using simultaneous air temperature observations from two stations. The “urban” station is located on EKU's Richmond campus; the “rural” station is in a non-irrigated pasture 12.9 km away. EKU's heat island follows a typical diurnal pattern, developing during the hours surrounding sunset and dissipating soon after sunrise. Dry air masses with little to no cloud cover and calm winds are favorable for UHI development. Analyzing only nocturnal observations when wind speed was less than 1 m/s, revealed an average urban-rural temperature difference of 3.35°C, though concurrent differences sometimes exceed 10°C. At EKU, the smallest average monthly UHI occurs in February and the largest average monthly UHI occurs in August and September. Strategic tree planting offers an attractive means of mitigating negative impacts on warm season cooling costs and human comfort, while also contributing to campus sustainability goals.
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