Hot in the City: Urban Heat Islands and Lightning

Andrew B. Collier

Andrew B. Collier, Ph.D. Physics

Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight
Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight

Billy Idol, Hot in the City (1982)

Is there a reason to believe that cities are warmer than the suburbs and nearby countryside? Indeed, there is! The concept of an Urban Heat Island (UHI) has been around since the beginning of the 19th century when Luke Howard made temperature measurements in and around the city of London [1]. A UHI is an area centered on a metropolis, where the temperature is appreciably higher than the surrounding rural areas. There are two major contributors to this effect:

  1. differences in land surface materials (those in a city tend to store more heat), and
  2. waste heat and pollution associated with high population density, traffic and industry.

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Are business industries sensitive to climate?

Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

Geographic properties of the land often dictate the type of businesses that can be located there. For example, you can’t have an inland naval base. Farms and agriculture in general are less likely to prosper on rocky mountains that on sunny plains. But today with all the technological advancements we have many jobs in intellectual labor, including IT, finance, hi-tech manufacturing and other new industries that seem less likely to depend on climatic features.

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Education Funding Disparity

Jeffery Green

Jeffery Green, J.D., Ph.D. (ABD) Political Science

It is often the case that one does not need to travel a great distance to witness disparities in the distribution of public goods across a state. Since humans began clustering in organized societies, there has always been a hub and spoke effect between centers of trade and government and peripheral regions. Wealth and public goods historically center on the hub, while the remainder is often apportioned out to peripheral regions. To be clear, this is not always a product of greed or an act of thumbing the government nose at the hinterlands. Often there are bona fide reasons for distributing public goods in this manner. The hubs are often centers of commerce and government, and, therefore, attract more people. As such, more public services need to be provided, resulting in more funding.

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Are Individuals Moving to States With Little to No Income Tax?

R.T. Young

R.T. Young, Ph.D. Business Economics

Are individuals moving from higher tax states to lower tax states?

The hotly-debated issue has two components.

First, how big is the movement of individuals between states? Is the shift something worth worrying about?

Second, could taxes be a possible explanation for the movement of individuals from one state to another? In particular, is income tax a major culprit?

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How the United States Grows

Kristine Barseghyan

Kristine Barseghyan, Ph.D. (ABD) Social Sciences

Theoretically, the United States could accommodate 86.7 billion people at density of New York City. Texas alone could accommodate a population of 6.9 billion; together with New Mexico, it could host the world population of 10.9 billion by the end of the 21st century.[i]

Since the Post–World War II Baby Boom, the U.S. population growth rate has been declining. In 2012-2013, it increased only by 0.71 percent after averaging 0.9 percent growth in the last decade.[ii] According to current projections, the net international migration will become the driver of population growth in 2032 (Figure 1).[iii]

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More borrowers make early loan repayments in spring

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

In a post some time ago, we studied seasonal patterns in loan default rates. At the same time, early loan repayments are relatively common, amounting to more than 15 percrent of all loans in the western states. And since early loan repayments are usually voluntary decisions (unlike defaulting on loans), it would be especially interesting to see if we can find any seasonal patterns here.

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How Does the Presence of a Major Employer Affect Crime Rates?

Jeffery Green

Jeffery Green, J.D., Ph.D. (ABD) Political Science

On October 12, 2002, known locally as “Black Friday,” the Maytag Corporation announced plans to close a 1,600-worker refrigerator factory in Galesburg, Illinois. On “Black Friday,” Maytag announced it was transferring much of its production to Reynosa, Mexico, where Maytag had just opened its first non-U.S. factory. This was much like any other story of offshoring manufacturing which had occurred throughout the 1990s in the post-NAFTA era. However, what struck a chord in Galesburg was that Maytag leaving marked the proverbial final nail in the civic coffin of what had been a town who had focused on two main industries: the railroad with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe operating a massive rail yard on the South end of town, and numerous manufacturers such as Gates Rubber, Gales Manufacturing, Butler Manufacturing and Maytag, which had provided countless well-paying union jobs for people right out of high school. What stung even more was that Maytag – whose facility sat on the edge of town and acted as a metaphorical cornerstone between the corn and bean fields which lay to the south and west of town – had previously extracted a massive price from the town to stay. Making the sting much worse was that this came on the heels of Maytag constructing a brand new facility in the early 1990s with the benefit of huge tax incentives, which had smoothed over threats of the manufacturer leaving. It is estimated that the town had invested nearly $10 million into keeping the employer in the city in the previous decade.

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