221676 Climate Justice: Assessing the spatial distribution of urban heat island impacts on populations living in the United States

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Vivek Shandas, PhD , Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University, Portland, OR
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that heat waves have been increasing toward the end of the 20th century and are projected to continue to increase in frequency, intensity and duration. Due largely to changes in global climate patterns, these heat waves can overwhelm a person's ability to thermoregulate, resulting in physiological heat stress which can lead to death. Urban populations are particularly vulnerable, due to the densities of heat trapping materials, such as roads, rooftops, and other asphalt surfaces. Recent developments in remote sensing and geographic information systems allow for a characterization and identification of areas within cities where urban heat can increase the likelihood of heat related illnesses. Using empirical assessment of urban heat in the Portland (OR) metropolitan region, we develop a spatially-explicit statistical model for assessing the distribution of heat in 13 cities across the United States (US). Using demographic data from the US Census we further describe the locations of populations most at risk from future heat waves. Our findings suggest a consistent pattern of populations impacted by future heat waves, including lower-income, older and minority communities, although their spatial distribution varies across the urban regions of the country. Our results help to frame a pro-active approach to engaging community groups in adaptation efforts, some of which are being developed in the Portland region. We conclude by offering recommendations for improving conditions for specific urban populations during extreme heat events, and describe a framework for engaging the public in developing adaptation strategies.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the conditions that create an urban heat island; identify the spatial distribution of urban heat; differentiate the impacts of extreme heat events on urban populations; and name those demographics most impacted by extreme heat events.

Keywords: Climate Change, Environmental Exposures

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conduct research through the Center for Urban Studies at Portland State University, which focuses on the relationship between urban development patterns and impacts to human health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.