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Neighborhood microclimates and vulnerability to heat stress

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  • Harlan, Sharon L.
  • Brazel, Anthony J.
  • Prashad, Lela
  • Stefanov, William L.
  • Larsen, Larissa

Abstract

Human exposure to excessively warm weather, especially in cities, is an increasingly important public health problem. This study examined heat-related health inequalities within one city in order to understand the relationships between the microclimates of urban neighborhoods, population characteristics, thermal environments that regulate microclimates, and the resources people possess to cope with climatic conditions. A simulation model was used to estimate an outdoor human thermal comfort index (HTCI) as a function of local climate variables collected in 8 diverse city neighborhoods during the summer of 2003 in Phoenix, USA. HTCI is an indicator of heat stress, a condition that can cause illness and death. There were statistically significant differences in temperatures and HTCI between the neighborhoods during the entire summer, which increased during a heat wave period. Lower socioeconomic and ethnic minority groups were more likely to live in warmer neighborhoods with greater exposure to heat stress. High settlement density, sparse vegetation, and having no open space in the neighborhood were significantly correlated with higher temperatures and HTCI. People in warmer neighborhoods were more vulnerable to heat exposure because they had fewer social and material resources to cope with extreme heat. Urban heat island reduction policies should specifically target vulnerable residential areas and take into account equitable distribution and preservation of environmental resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Harlan, Sharon L. & Brazel, Anthony J. & Prashad, Lela & Stefanov, William L. & Larsen, Larissa, 2006. "Neighborhood microclimates and vulnerability to heat stress," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(11), pages 2847-2863, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:63:y:2006:i:11:p:2847-2863
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    Cited by:

    1. Sara Wilkinson & Renato Castiglia Feitosa, 2015. "Retrofitting Housing with Lightweight Green Roof Technology in Sydney, Australia, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(1), pages 1-18, January.
    2. Walton, Z.L. & Poudyal, N.C. & Hepinstall-Cymerman, J. & Johnson Gaither, C. & Boley, B.B., 2016. "Exploring the role of forest resources in reducing community vulnerability to the heat effects of climate change," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 94-102.
    3. Joseph, Gillian M. & Skinner, Mark W. & Yantzi, Nicole M., 2013. "The weather-stains of care: Interpreting the meaning of bad weather for front-line health care workers in rural long-term care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 194-201.
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    5. Romero-Lankao, Patricia & Qin, Hua & Borbor-Cordova, Mercy, 2013. "Exploration of health risks related to air pollution and temperature in three Latin American cities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 110-118.
    6. Cutts, Bethany B. & Darby, Kate J. & Boone, Christopher G. & Brewis, Alexandra, 2009. "City structure, obesity, and environmental justice: An integrated analysis of physical and social barriers to walkable streets and park access," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1314-1322, November.
    7. Patricia Gober & Ray Quay & Kelli L. Larson, 2016. "Outdoor Water Use as an Adaptation Problem: Insights from North American Cities," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 30(3), pages 899-912, February.
    8. Weihua Dong & Zhao Liu & Lijie Zhang & Qiuhong Tang & Hua Liao & Xian'en Li, 2014. "Assessing Heat Health Risk for Sustainability in Beijing’s Urban Heat Island," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(10), pages 1-24, October.
    9. Lisa Reyes Mason & Jon M. Hathaway & Kelsey N. Ellis & Taylor Harrison, 2016. "Public Interest in Microclimate Data in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(1), pages 1-9, December.
    10. Stephanie Pincetl & Mikhail Chester & David Eisenman, 2016. "Urban Heat Stress Vulnerability in the U.S. Southwest: The Role of Sociotechnical Systems," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(9), pages 1-13, August.
    11. Vaneckova, Pavla & Beggs, Paul J. & Jacobson, Carol R., 2010. "Spatial analysis of heat-related mortality among the elderly between 1993 and 2004 in Sydney, Australia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 293-304, January.
    12. Young-Jae Kim & Ayoung Woo, 2015. "Estimating Natural Environmental Characteristics of Subsidized Households: A Case Study of Austin, Texas," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(10), pages 1-21, September.
    13. Weihua Dong & Zhao Liu & Hua Liao & Qiuhong Tang & Xian’en Li, 2015. "New climate and socio-economic scenarios for assessing global human health challenges due to heat risk," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 130(4), pages 505-518, June.
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    16. Yang, Jiachuan & Wang, Zhi-Hua & Kaloush, Kamil E., 2015. "Environmental impacts of reflective materials: Is high albedo a ‘silver bullet’ for mitigating urban heat island?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 830-843.
    17. Maria Papathoma-Koehle & Catrin Promper & Roxana Bojariu & Roxana Cica & András Sik & Kinga Perge & Peter László & Erika Balázs Czikora & Alexandru Dumitrescu & Cosmin Turcus & Marius-Victor Birsan & , 2016. "A common methodology for risk assessment and mapping for south-east Europe: an application for heat wave risk in Romania," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 82(1), pages 89-109, May.
    18. H. Allen Klaiber & Joshua K. Abbott & V. Kerry Smith, 2017. "Some Like It (Less) Hot: Extracting Trade-Off Measures for Physically Coupled Amenities," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(4), pages 1053-1079.
    19. repec:asg:wpaper:1036 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Jamei, Elmira & Rajagopalan, Priyadarsini & Seyedmahmoudian, Mohammadmehdi & Jamei, Yashar, 2016. "Review on the impact of urban geometry and pedestrian level greening on outdoor thermal comfort," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1002-1017.
    21. Skinner, Mark W. & Yantzi, Nicole M. & Rosenberg, Mark W., 2009. "Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow: Provider perspectives on the challenges of weather for home and community care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 682-688, February.
    22. Sadroddin Alavipanah & Martin Wegmann & Salman Qureshi & Qihao Weng & Thomas Koellner, 2015. "The Role of Vegetation in Mitigating Urban Land Surface Temperatures: A Case Study of Munich, Germany during the Warm Season," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-18, April.

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