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Maricopa County development grant to research urban heat

A jet comes in for approach over downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, as temperatures exceed 100 degrees in the morning hours. (Matt York/AP)

A jet comes in for approach over downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, as temperatures exceed 100 degrees in the morning hours. (Matt York/AP)

PHOENIX — An economic development agency run by Maricopa County says it will issue a grant of nearly $3 million to Arizona State University for research to reduce urban heat and improve air quality.

The grant announced this week by the Maricopa County Industrial Development Authority aims to help launch the university's Healthy Urban Environment Initiative.

Scientists say the greater Phoenix area suffers from an urban heat island effect caused by a dearth of vegetation and a proliferation of heat-retaining materials such as asphalt that prevent it from cooling off at night.

While average temperatures have risen, so has the ozone polluting the area's air.

University President Michael Crow says the initiative is a great example of how ASU and the county can work together to solve a pressing local problem.