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Vulnerability to Extreme Heat in Metropolitan Phoenix: Spatial, Temporal, and Demographic Dimensions

Description

This study assessed the spatial distribution of vulnerability to extreme heat in 1990 and 2000 within metropolitan Phoenix based on an index of seven equally weighted measures of physical exposure and adaptive capacity. These measures were derived from spatially interpolated

This study assessed the spatial distribution of vulnerability to extreme heat in 1990 and 2000 within metropolitan Phoenix based on an index of seven equally weighted measures of physical exposure and adaptive capacity. These measures were derived from spatially interpolated climate, normalized differential vegetation index, and U.S. Census data. From resulting vulnerability maps, we also analyzed population groups living in areas of high heat vulnerability. Results revealed that landscapes of heat vulnerability changed substantially in response to variations in physical and socioeconomic factors, with significant alterations to spatial distribution of vulnerability especially between eastern and western sectors of Phoenix. These changes worked to the detriment of Phoenix's Hispanic population and the elderly concentrated in urban-fringe retirement communities.

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2011-08-18

Micro-Scale Urban Surface Temperatures are Related to Land-Cover Features and Residential Heat Related Health Impacts in Phoenix, AZ USA

Description

Context:
With rapidly expanding urban regions, the effects of land cover changes on urban surface temperatures and the consequences of these changes for human health are becoming progressively larger problems.

Objectives:
We investigated residential parcel and neighborhood scale variations in urban

Context:
With rapidly expanding urban regions, the effects of land cover changes on urban surface temperatures and the consequences of these changes for human health are becoming progressively larger problems.

Objectives:
We investigated residential parcel and neighborhood scale variations in urban land surface temperature, land cover, and residents’ perceptions of landscapes and heat illnesses in the subtropical desert city of Phoenix, AZ USA.

Methods:
We conducted an airborne imaging campaign that acquired high resolution urban land surface temperature data (7 m/pixel) during the day and night. We performed a geographic overlay of these data with high resolution land cover maps, parcel boundaries, neighborhood boundaries, and a household survey.

Results:
Land cover composition, including percentages of vegetated, building, and road areas, and values for NDVI, and albedo, was correlated with residential parcel surface temperatures and the effects differed between day and night. Vegetation was more effective at cooling hotter neighborhoods. We found consistencies between heat risk factors in neighborhood environments and residents’ perceptions of these factors. Symptoms of heat-related illness were correlated with parcel scale surface temperature patterns during the daytime but no corresponding relationship was observed with nighttime surface temperatures.

Conclusions:
Residents’ experiences of heat vulnerability were related to the daytime land surface thermal environment, which is influenced by micro-scale variation in land cover composition. These results provide a first look at parcel-scale causes and consequences of urban surface temperature variation and provide a critically needed perspective on heat vulnerability assessment studies conducted at much coarser scales.

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2015-10-19

Seasonal Hydroclimatic Impacts of Sun Corridor Expansion

Description

Conversion of natural to urban land forms imparts influence on local and regional hydroclimate via modification of the surface energy and water balance, and consideration of such effects due to rapidly expanding megapolitan areas is necessary in light of the

Conversion of natural to urban land forms imparts influence on local and regional hydroclimate via modification of the surface energy and water balance, and consideration of such effects due to rapidly expanding megapolitan areas is necessary in light of the growing global share of urban inhabitants. Based on a suite of ensemble-based, multi-year simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, we quantify seasonally varying hydroclimatic impacts of the most rapidly expanding megapolitan area in the US: Arizona's Sun Corridor, centered upon the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Using a scenario-based urban expansion approach that accounts for the full range of Sun Corridor growth uncertainty through 2050, we show that built environment induced warming for the maximum development scenario is greatest during the summer season (regionally averaged warming over AZ exceeds 1 °C).

Warming remains significant during the spring and fall seasons (regionally averaged warming over AZ approaches 0.9 °C during both seasons), and is least during the winter season (regionally averaged warming over AZ of 0.5 °C). Impacts from a minimum expansion scenario are reduced, with regionally averaged warming ranging between 0.1 and 0.3 °C for all seasons except winter, when no warming impacts are diagnosed. Integration of highly reflective cool roofs within the built environment, increasingly recognized as a cost-effective option intended to offset the warming influence of urban complexes, reduces urban-induced warming considerably. However, impacts on the hydrologic cycle are aggravated via enhanced evapotranspiration reduction, leading to a 4% total accumulated precipitation decrease relative to the non-adaptive maximum expansion scenario. Our results highlight potentially unintended consequences of this adaptation approach within rapidly expanding megapolitan areas, and emphasize the need for undeniably sustainable development paths that account for hydrologic impacts in addition to continued focus on mean temperature effects.

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2012-09-07

Predicting Hospitalization for Heat-Related Illness at the Census-Tract Level: Accuracy of a Generic Heat Vulnerability Index in Phoenix, Arizona (USA)

Description

Background: Vulnerability mapping based on vulnerability indices is a pragmatic approach for highlighting the areas in a city where people are at the greatest risk of harm from heat, but the manner in which vulnerability is conceptualized influences the results.

Objectives:

Background: Vulnerability mapping based on vulnerability indices is a pragmatic approach for highlighting the areas in a city where people are at the greatest risk of harm from heat, but the manner in which vulnerability is conceptualized influences the results.

Objectives: We tested a generic national heat-vulnerability index, based on a 10-variable indicator framework, using data on heat-related hospitalizations in Phoenix, Arizona. We also identified potential local risk factors not included in the generic indicators.

Methods: To evaluate the accuracy of the generic index in a city-specific context, we used factor scores, derived from a factor analysis using census tract–level characteristics, as independent variables, and heat hospitalizations (with census tracts categorized as zero-, moderate-, or highincidence) as dependent variables in a multinomial logistic regression model. We also compared the geographical differences between a vulnerability map derived from the generic index and one derived from actual heat-related hospitalizations at the census-tract scale.

Results: We found that the national-indicator framework correctly classified just over half (54%) of census tracts in Phoenix. Compared with all census tracts, high-vulnerability tracts that were misclassified by the index as zero-vulnerability tracts had higher average income and higher proportions of residents with a duration of residency < 5 years.

Conclusion: The generic indicators of vulnerability are useful, but they are sensitive to scale, measurement, and context. Decision makers need to consider the characteristics of their cities to determine how closely vulnerability maps based on generic indicators reflect actual risk of harm.

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2015-06-01

Environmental Research Letters Connecting People and Place: A New Framework for Reducing Urban Vulnerability to Extreme Heat

Description

Climate change is predicted to increase the intensity and negative impacts of urban heat events, prompting the need to develop preparedness and adaptation strategies that reduce societal vulnerability to extreme heat. Analysis of societal vulnerability to extreme heat events requires

Climate change is predicted to increase the intensity and negative impacts of urban heat events, prompting the need to develop preparedness and adaptation strategies that reduce societal vulnerability to extreme heat. Analysis of societal vulnerability to extreme heat events requires an interdisciplinary approach that includes information about weather and climate, the natural and built environment, social processes and characteristics, interactions with stakeholders, and an assessment of community vulnerability at a local level. In this letter, we explore the relationships between people and places, in the context of urban heat stress, and present a new research framework for a multi-faceted, top-down and bottom-up analysis of local-level vulnerability to extreme heat. This framework aims to better represent societal vulnerability through the integration of quantitative and qualitative data that go beyond aggregate demographic information. We discuss how different elements of the framework help to focus attention and resources on more targeted health interventions, heat hazard mitigation and climate adaptation strategies.

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2010-03-26

Designing a Geospatial Information Infrastructure for Mitigation of Heat Wave Hazards in Urban Areas

Description

Extreme heat is a natural hazard that could rapidly increase in magnitude in the 21st century. The combination of increasingurbanization, growing numbers of vulnerable people, and the evidence of global warming indicate an urgent need for improved heat-wavemitigation and response

Extreme heat is a natural hazard that could rapidly increase in magnitude in the 21st century. The combination of increasingurbanization, growing numbers of vulnerable people, and the evidence of global warming indicate an urgent need for improved heat-wavemitigation and response systems. A review of the literature on heat-wave impacts in urban environments and on human health revealsopportunities for improved synthesis, integration, and sharing of information resources that relate to the spatial and temporal nature ofthreats posed by extreme heat. This paper illustrates how geospatial technologies can aid in the mitigation of urban heat waves.

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2004-07-15

A Framework for Vulnerability Analysis Insustainability Science

Description

Global environmental change and sustainability science increasingly recognize the need to address the consequences of changes taking place in the structure and function of the biosphere. These changes raise questions such as: Who and what are vulnerable to the multiple

Global environmental change and sustainability science increasingly recognize the need to address the consequences of changes taking place in the structure and function of the biosphere. These changes raise questions such as: Who and what are vulnerable to the multiple environmental changes underway, and where? Research demonstrates that vulnerability is registered not by exposure to hazards (perturbations and stresses) alone but also resides in the sensitivity and resilience of the system experiencing such hazards. This recognition requires revisions and enlargements in the basic design of vulnerability assessments, including the capacity to treat coupled human–environment systems and those linkages within and without the systems that affect their vulnerability. A vulnerability framework for the assessment of coupled human–environment systems is presented.

Research on global environmental change has significantly improved our understanding of the structure and function of the biosphere and the human impress on both (1). The emergence of “sustainability science” (2–4) builds toward an understanding of the human–environment condition with the dual objectives of meeting the needs of society while sustaining the life support systems of the planet. These objectives, in turn, require improved dialogue between science and decision making (5–8). The vulnerability of coupled human–environment systems is one of the central elements of this dialogue and sustainability research (6, 9–11). It directs attention to such questions as: Who and what are vulnerable to the multiple environmental and human changes underway, and where? How are these changes and their consequences attenuated or amplified by different human and environmental conditions? What can be done to reduce vulnerability to change? How may more resilient and adaptive communities and societies be built?

Answers to these and related questions require conceptual frameworks that account for the vulnerability of coupled human–environment systems with diverse and complex linkages. Various expert communities have made considerable progress in pointing the way toward the design of these frameworks (10, 11). These advances are briefly reviewed here and, drawing on them, we present a conceptual framework of vulnerability developed by the Research and Assessment Systems for Sustainability Program (http://sust.harvard.edu) that produced the set of works in this Special Feature of PNAS. The framework aims to make vulnerability analysis consistent with the concerns of sustainability and global environmental change science. The case study by Turner et al. (12) in this issue of PNAS illustrates how the framework informs vulnerability assessments.

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2003-03-07

Indoor-Outdoor Environmental Coupling and Exposure Risk to Extreme Heat and Poor Air Quality During Heat Waves

Description

Mortality and morbidity associated with extreme summer heat and poor air quality continues to be one of the most pressing human health challenges in cities and is likely to be exacerbated in the future due to urban growth and climate

Mortality and morbidity associated with extreme summer heat and poor air quality continues to be one of the most pressing human health challenges in cities and is likely to be exacerbated in the future due to urban growth and climate change. Heat is currently the leading weather-related cause of death in the developed world (e.g. CDC 2004), and future heat vulnerability for the elderly is projected to increase substantially in the coming decades (Sheridan et al., 2012).

Recent extreme heat events such as the May 2015 heat wave in India that saw record temperatures near 50oC and resulted in more than 2500 deaths, have underlined the importance and urgency of the problem. Traditional epidemiological studies of the health effects of heat and air quality focus on outdoor environmental conditions. This approach is suitable for assessing heat-health risks for populations that spend much of their time outdoors (e.g. homeless, construction workers, etc). However, as was the case of the European heat wave of 2003, the particularly vulnerable population was the elderly, and in particular, elderly who lived on the top floor of a building that lacked air conditioning (Mavrogianni et al., 2012). Typical urban residents spend more than 85% of their time indoors (Klepeis et al., 2001)—and some of the most vulnerable populations (e.g., the elderly) spend an even higher fraction of time indoors.

While the indoor environment is coupled with the outdoor environment there are key differences both in terms of air quality and thermal conditions. With respect to thermal environment, for buildings without air conditioning, this coupling includes variations in indoor air temperature that depend on building construction characteristics, location within building (e.g. top floor, south façade), occupant behavior, internal loads, ventilation, and infiltration. Indoor air quality, on the other hand, is driven by the relative magnitude of each mode of air exchange (e.g. infiltration vs. filtered mechanical ventilation) and emissions and secondary reactions of air pollutants indoors.

Hence, there is a need to better understand the relationship between indoor and outdoor environments, and how this relationship is affected by occupant behavior and building construction and management practices. In the case of air conditioned and mechanically ventilated buildings a scenario of particular interest is that of coincident heat waves and power outages producing very unhealthy indoor environments. This paper discusses a newly funded research project that addresses these issues, with an emphasis on assisted living facilities using the city of Houston Texas, USA as the research test bed. It will introduce some of the key mechanisms that drive differences in indoor and outdoor conditions and present some early findings related to risks of coincident heat waves and power outages or equipment failures in buildings.

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2015-06-15

Mapping Community Determinants of Heat Vulnerability

Description

Background:
The evidence that heat waves can result in both increased deaths and illness is substantial, and concern over this issue is rising because of climate change. Adverse health impacts from heat waves can be avoided, and epidemiologic studies have

Background:
The evidence that heat waves can result in both increased deaths and illness is substantial, and concern over this issue is rising because of climate change. Adverse health impacts from heat waves can be avoided, and epidemiologic studies have identified specific population and community characteristics that mark vulnerability to heat waves.

Objectives:
We situated vulnerability to heat in geographic space and identified potential areas for intervention and further research.

Methods:
We mapped and analyzed 10 vulnerability factors for heat-related morbidity/mortality in the United States: six demographic characteristics and two household air conditioning variables from the U.S. Census Bureau, vegetation cover from satellite images, and diabetes prevalence from a national survey. We performed a factor analysis of these 10 variables and assigned values of increasing vulnerability for the four resulting factors to each of 39,794 census tracts. We added the four factor scores to obtain a cumulative heat vulnerability index value.

Results:
Four factors explained > 75% of the total variance in the original 10 vulnerability variables: a) social/environmental vulnerability (combined education/poverty/race/green space), b) social isolation, c) air conditioning prevalence, and d) proportion elderly/diabetes. We found substantial spatial variability of heat vulnerability nationally, with generally higher vulnerability in the Northeast and Pacific Coast and the lowest in the Southeast. In urban areas, inner cities showed the highest vulnerability to heat.

Conclusions:
These methods provide a template for making local and regional heat vulnerability maps. After validation using health outcome data, interventions can be targeted at the most vulnerable populations.

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2009-11-01

Neighborhood Effects on Heat Deaths: Social and Environmental Predictors of Vulnerability in Maricopa County, Arizona

Description

Objectives: We estimated neighborhood effects of population characteristics and built and natural environments on deaths due to heat exposure in Maricopa County, Arizona (2000–2008).

Methods: We used 2000 U.S. Census data and remotely sensed vegetation and land surface temperature to construct

Objectives: We estimated neighborhood effects of population characteristics and built and natural environments on deaths due to heat exposure in Maricopa County, Arizona (2000–2008).

Methods: We used 2000 U.S. Census data and remotely sensed vegetation and land surface temperature to construct indicators of neighborhood vulnerability and a geographic information system to map vulnerability and residential addresses of persons who died from heat exposure in 2,081 census block groups. Binary logistic regression and spatial analysis were used to associate deaths with neighborhoods.

Results: Neighborhood scores on three factors—socioeconomic vulnerability, elderly/isolation, and unvegetated area—varied widely throughout the study area. The preferred model (based on fit and parsimony) for predicting the odds of one or more deaths from heat exposure within a census block group included the first two factors and surface temperature in residential neighborhoods, holding population size constant. Spatial analysis identified clusters of neighborhoods with the highest heat vulnerability scores. A large proportion of deaths occurred among people, including homeless persons, who lived in the inner cores of the largest cities and along an industrial corridor.

Conclusions: Place-based indicators of vulnerability complement analyses of person-level heat risk factors. Surface temperature might be used in Maricopa County to identify the most heat-vulnerable neighborhoods, but more attention to the socioecological complexities of climate adaptation is needed.

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Date Created
2013-02-01