, °F

Personalized Forecasts

Featured Forecast

My Favorite Forecasts

    My Recent Locations

    How Hot Can Different Surfaces Get Based on Color?

    Share |

    Temperature measurements are one of the most widely used parameters in weather. The temperature data that most people see in their hometowns on a daily basis come from sensors that sit approximately 6 feet (2 m) off the ground. Depending on the time of day, temperatures can vary by more than 2 or 3 degrees Fahrenheit from the sensors 6 feet off the ground to the immediate ground. In addition, different surfaces, such as green grass, black asphalt and many more, absorb and radiate heat differently. As a result of this variability, surfaces within a community will frequently show different temperatures based on color and location.

    A recent Columbia University study led by researcher Stewart Gaffin looked into the temperature difference of surfaces based on color. Gaffin's study analyzed the daily temperatures of a flat green roof which included vegetation/grass that was 4 inches high, a flat white roof with a high reflectance and a flat black roof with a rubberlike membrane over the course of a year in New York City. His findings show that the black roof had a temperature of about 10 degrees F higher than either the green or white roof.

    During the summer months, the difference in temperature among all three of the roofs was significantly different. Due to the higher sun angle along with the properties of each roof, the green roof with vegetation was on average 30 degrees F cooler than the white roof and 60 degree F cooler than the black roof. The black roof peaked at a temperature of 176 degrees F during the summertime. Temperatures this extreme are not uncommon for surfaces such as playground blacktops and asphalt roads on a hot summer day.

    Report a Typo

    More Weather Glossary

    • Hoar Frost

      After a cold, clear winter night without much wind, the ground and nearby tree branches may be covered by tiny, white ice crystals.

    Daily U.S. Extremes

    past 24 hours

      Extreme Location
    High N/A
    Low N/A
    Precip N/A

    Weather Whys®

    This Day In Weather History

    College Park, MD ()
    Tornado causes damage to buildings on Univ. of MD campus. 2 people were killed.

    SC, GA & N FL (1888)
    Southern frost, earliest frost ever so far south.

    Yellowstone, MT (1926)
    Minus 9 degrees F., lowest for U.S. in September. Severe widespread frost with great crop destruction. Earliest snow in Spokane Co., Washington.

    Rough Weather