Friday, October 11, 2013

Sunlight’s effect on Phoenix, Arizona

By Nick Mosher
The sunlight is a very viable tool that has been used since the first humans.  Capitalizing on it can lead to many positive effects such in regards to attitude, health, costs, performance, and ambiance. But just like anything, too much of it is harmful.  Phoenix, Arizona is known for being the hottest city in the United States.  Well over 100 days of the year the city has temperatures that exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is primarily due to the constant direct sunlight that shines down.  With an average of 325 days of the year getting sunlight, this keeps the temperature up to points where it evaporates the moisture out of the air before it ever turns into rain (Sub Tropical Desert, 2013). This concentrated heat creates an uncomfortable level that causes the people to stay inside in the air conditioning.  This constant use of electricity to power the air conditioning unit causes costs to add up.  People are relying more on the artificial cooling systems for their homes and businesses instead of incorporating a hybrid use of artificial and natural technologies to keep spaces comfortable. 
            Not only does the intense heat from the sunlight increase bills, it also has been shown to increase irritability and aggression.  Consistent to the increase in temperature and aggression, there have also been studies that show the crime rates also increase.  Given the previous info, according to Craig Anderson, there is a correlation between how hot the temperature is and the crime rates (Baker, Brazel, Selover, 2003).  By using the passive solar techniques to create a cooler and more comfortable space both inside and outside, this can potentially reduce crime in that area. 
For the last fifty years in Phoenix, the population has been increasing as well as the average temperature.  The heat island effect is a condition created when an urban environment changes the landscape.  Open land gets replaced with roads, buildings, and infrastructure; which then causes the temperature around that area to become hotter than the surround land.  This is due to the sun warming up rooftops and pavements hotter than the air.  The objects being heated up then slowly release the heat creating the surrounding air to become hotter.  Adding this on top of the already hot climate of Phoenix makes it even more uncomfortable.  This has been proven in a study showing that the number of hours per day where the temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit has nearly doubled in 2000 since 1948 (Baker, Brazel, Selover, 2003).  This means that it takes less time for the temperature to reach an uncomfortable level during the day and more time for it to cool off at night.  This has the potential to worsen as the population keeps growing past its 1.5 million people currently.  It can also become better by designing structures to help create more shading while not absorbing a lot of heat. 

Sub Tropical Desert. (Viewed September 14, 2013) Climate. Retrieved from
Baker, L. A. Brazel, A. J. Selover, N. (2003). Urbanization and Warming of Phoenix (Arizona, USA): Impacts, Feedbacks and Mitigations. Retrieved from

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