Tokyo gets toasty

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Recent years have seen rising temperatures in Tokyo, leading to atypical tropical-style evening rains. But for once the culprit isn’t global warming. The Asian megalopolis is simply stewing in its own juices.

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The concentration of buildings, cars, and bodies found in cities normally creates a “heat island” effect. The NEW SCIENTIST reports that in Tokyo, the phenomenon causes large, water-laden clouds to build during the day, and release downpours in the evening. One evening last July, 82.5 millimeters (more than three inches) fell in an hour, causing serious flooding.

The problem has become so serious that Japan’s Environment Agency is working on measures to lower urban temperatures, such as installing lighter-colored concrete that absorbs less heat and planting more trees.

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