Project to fill urban-warming void

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With the dog days of summer long gone, researchers are just starting to get a handle on how urban warming is effecting the metropolis.

A project is now under way to gauge the effects of the “heat island” phenomenon.

Until now, there has been a dearth of information on the effects of urban warming caused by heat-retaining concrete structures and human activity concentrated in cities.

Just four monitoring sites in the capital were supplying data until August. But the Tokyo Metropolitan Research Institute for Environmental Protection and Tokyo Metropolitan University recently outfitted 120 roofs in the heart of the city with monitoring equipment.

Experts claim that the project constitutes an unrivaled attempt to shed light on the implications of urban warming.

A hundred of the monitoring stations perched atop elementary schools are recording temperature and humidity, while the other 20, scattered atop hotels and ward offices, are also equipped to track wind direction and speed, and relay the meteorological data every 10 minutes.

The first data are just trickling in.

“The project is for three years and at the end of it we hope to have a better understanding of what the heat island (effect) means for Tokyo,” said heat island expert Takehiko Mikami, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University.