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The Heat Island Effect occurs when dark surfaces absorb the Sun’s energy and re-radiate it throughout the day and night raising the ambient air temperature. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C). Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.

US Environmental Protection Agency. Available from: http://www.epa.gov/hiri/ [accessed 9 September 2012]

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