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Hot Time: Summer in the City

Some of you know this already: A new report from the U.K. says summers in the city are hotter than ever. And they're going to get even hotter in the future, thanks to global warming.

Why are cities so much hotter than the surrounding countryside? Climatologist Richard Betts says it's because the traffic heats them up more and they retain that heat longer. Roads and sidewalks soak up heat during the daytime, which is released gradually at night, which is why they're called "urban heat islands." In contrast, fields and forests get rid of their stored heat quickly. If carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, it will TRIPLE the heat island effect.

Last year's European heatwave caused at least 20,000 deaths, especially among elderly people. CO2 concentrations are now about 379 parts per million (ppm) and are increasing at three ppm each year. CO2 was around 280 ppm in pre-industrial times.

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