Heat properties in artificial turf vs. real grass

If you’ve ever set foot on artificial turf on a hot day, there’s no secret that conditions can be downright miserable. Like many autumn sports, they struggle with intense temperatures across the board. The heat is even more intense for those on the lawn. A study by Penn State shows that some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the lawn are between 175 ° and 200 °! We know for a fact that the air temperature in the 200º lawn measurement in Utah was 98º. Typically, less humid and sunny situations can accelerate these temperatures even further.

Those of you who have stepped foot on an artificial turf pitch know that there are millions of tiny rubber balls in the grass. These black rubber balls are often thought to be the reason the lawn gets so hot. That’s not the case. The main reason the lawn gets so hot is the lack of a natural process called perspiration. Perspiration occurs when a living plant (grass) naturally gives off water, which then evaporates and allows the surface to naturally cool. This cannot happen inside the artificial grass.

Research shows that natural grass generally only fluctuates between 75 and 95 ° C on hot days. That is significantly cooler than artificial turf. Thanks to evaporative cooling through evaporation, the grass is often cooler than the air temperature. You can generally bet that the lawn will be between 35 ° and 55 ° hotter than the grass surface at any time of the year. In theory, this would be a welcome addition in the cooler months, but it can put a strain on your body in the heat. Avoid the lawn and find some grass in the heat if possible.

The best way to avoid those scorching turf temperatures is to exercise early in the day or late at night when the air is cooler. Of course, staying hydrated is important, but know that when you stop sweating, your body needs more water. Apply sunscreen frequently and avoid wearing dark clothing. Lighter and looser fabrics will help you stay cool in the intense heat.

Our extended outlook allows these warmer temperatures to last until late August and early September. It’s important to keep these thermal safety ideas in mind.

-Meteorologist Warren Sears

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