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The Urban Heat Island Effect on Snowfall in Atlanta, Georgia

Authors: Jason Allard*, Valdosta State University
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Regional Geography, Environmental Science
Keywords: urban heat island, snowfall, Georgia
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Research has shown that urban areas are generally warmer than surrounding rural areas, with urban areas being up to 22° F warmer than rural areas. These warmer temperatures result from lower surface albedos, the geometry of buildings, heat sources within cities, and lower rates of evaporation due to increased runoff and reduced vegetation. In the current study, monthly and daily snowfall data were obtained for cooperative weather stations within 100 miles of Atlanta over the period 1995 – 2005 from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Snowfall events for Atlanta were compared to those at rural stations to determine if an urban heat island effect in Atlanta would reduce its number of snowfall events, total snowfall accumulation, and the average snowfall amounts relative to the surrounding more rural stations. Results indicate that snowfall events, snowfall accumulation, and average snowfall generally increase as latitude and elevation increase. Larger urban areas, particularly Atlanta, are exceptions to this pattern: the snowfall events and amounts are less than those at surrounding more rural locations that are at similar elevations and latitude. As such, elevation and latitude do not explain the patterns of snowfall events and totals for Atlanta, suggesting that an urban-warming effect is at least partially responsible for the reduced amounts of snowfall in Atlanta when compared to more rural surrounding areas.

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