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A New and Emerging Strategy for Pollution Prevention

Using high resolution, infrared photography developed by NASA for research on Urban Heat Islands, new strategies are emerging for improving the overall environment of urbanized areas by lowering ambient temperatures and reducing energy usage. The study of Urban Heat Islands is an emerging science which during the last few years has become the focus of major research projects at NASA, EPA and DOE as well as respected universities. While more definitive studies are continuing, it is clear from the data that the built environment, and corresponding lack of vegetation, is several degrees warmer (2 to 10 degrees F) than nearby natural environments. Moreover, certain structures, especially asphalt parking lots and dark roofs, are much hotter and retain heat longer. Modeling suggests that by increasing the reflectivity (albedo) of these surfaces, planting more trees, and reducing the capacity of these structures to store heat, the high ambient temperature can be reduced, providing many direct and indirect benefits to the environment and our health.

This NASA high altitude infrared scan of the I-75/I-285 Interchange near Cumberland Mall in Atlanta, Georgia.