Identifying the Populations Most Vulnerable to 'Extreme Heat Events'

New research published in Applied Geography is a first step toward planning for the resilience of vulnerable populations as the heat rises in urban areas.

August 11, 2017, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

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Alan Budman / Shutterstock

Annie Snead writes:

Although some people can just crank up the air-conditioning amid increasingly brutal heat, many cannot. Urban decision makers need to know where to focus resources as they plan their adaptation strategies, potentially as a matter of life and death. But how can they pinpoint the most vulnerable populations? In a recent study researchers answered this question for Philadelphia by mapping the places where residents are most at risk.

The study, by researchers at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Battelle Memorial Institute, was recently published in Applied Geography. Among the findings of the study: a large spike in "extreme heat event" days in Philadelphia, while nearby rural areas showed no increases in extreme event heat days. Researchers also found an increase in "hotter than normal" nights.

Once the researchers combined the temperature data with demographic data, they "found that more than half a million people—about 10 percent of the population—inhabit neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to heat event health impacts," according to Snead.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 in Scientific American

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