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University of Minnesota is studying urban heat

  • Associated Press
  • July 6, 2014 - 1:30 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota is studying whether urban farming can reduce heat in metropolitan areas.

The phenomenon of urban areas having higher average temperatures than their rural neighbors is known as the urban heat island effect, which is caused by structures such as roads and buildings replacing permeable vegetation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA already suggests that communities increase tree and vegetative cover, install rooftop gardens, and use cooling and reflective technologies for roofs and pavements.

But this summer Katherine Klink, a geography, environment and society associate professor, is using a $1,900 mini-grant from the University's Institute on the Environment to monitor temperature and humidity on two St. Paul farms over two years, according to Minnesota Daily (http://bit.ly/1q8hBRZ ).

"People just haven't thought of (urban farms) as a potential heat island mitigation strategy," Klink said.

She said depending on its results, the project may seek funding to expand into a long-term study and be included in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Eventually she hopes the research could lead to even more urban farms sprouting up in the Twin Cities.

Adding absorbent soil and vegetation is essential to reducing a heat island, Klink said.

"If you're farming in a city, then you're taking what used to be an impervious surface with little vegetation and making it pervious and growing vegetation," she said. "More of the (solar) energy is used for evaporation, and less is used for heating up the air."

© 2014 Star Tribune