Extreme Heat

by Dana Habeeb

My work argues for local and community change by demonstrating that change at the local level can have a significant regional impact.

Extreme heat events are responsible for more annual fatalities in the United States than any other form of extreme weather. Cities not only have higher temperatures than rural areas because of the urban heat island effect but they are increasing at a faster rate [1]. As the global population continues to urbanize, the number of vulnerable individuals will continue to increase making urban heat island mitigation strategies all the more important.

As an environmental planner and designer, I use large-scale datasets and localized sensor deployments to identify climate and environmental vulnerabilities for sensitive populations. Through environmental monitoring I uncover trends in extreme heat events, heat waves and urban heat islands in order to identify cities and regions that are vulnerable to these climate threats and have argued for local interventions in order to cool cities and combat climate change [1,2,3]. Projecting climate out to 2050, I have investigated how various parcel level climate responsive design techniques can save lives. My research demonstrates that policy changes enacted at the city and neighborhood level can be effective at protecting future generations of urban residents [4]. My research also focuses on the identification of vulnerable populations in order to target policies to protect these communities [5].

My work argues for local and community change by demonstrating that change at the local level can have a significant regional impact. My dissertation work follows on this trajectory by arguing for local interventions of vegetative strategies in highly urbanized areas through the use of urban agriculture. Urban agriculture can not only alleviate problems associated with food deserts but can also help to alleviate heat stress for vulnerable urban populations who often live in areas with less tree canopy and access to public green space. My dissertation, “Exploring Urban Agriculture as a Climate Change Mitigation Strategy at the Neighborhood Scale,” demonstrates that urban agriculture implemented at the local scale can successfully act as a heat mitigation strategy sufficiently decreasing high nighttime temperatures during hot summer months. My research also demonstrates that the urban form of a neighborhood plays an important role in how well vegetative strategies perform in reducing temperatures and shows that the urban form of a neighborhood directly impacts how and where we design our vegetative interventions. The results of my research can help guide decision makers when selecting between vegetative urban heat island mitigation strategies and will further support the burgeoning urban agriculture movement happening in cities across the United States.

  • 1. Stone, B., J. Vargo, and D. Habeeb, Managing climate change in cities: Will climate action plans work? Landscape and Urban Planning, 2012. 107(3): p. 263-271.
  • 2. Habeeb, D., J. Vargo, and B. Stone Jr, Rising heat wave trends in large US cities. Natural Hazards, 2015. 76(3): p. 1651-1665.
  • 3. Vargo, J., D. Habeeb, and B. Stone Jr, The importance of land cover change across urban-rural typologies for climate modeling. Journal of Environmental Management, 2013. 114: p. 243-252.
  • 4. Stone, B., et al., Avoided Heat-Related Mortality through Climate Adaptation Strategies in Three US Cities. PloS one, 2014. 9(6): p. e100852.
  • 5. Vargo, J., et al., The Social and Spatial Distribution of Temperature-related Health Impacts from Urban Heat Island Reduction Policies. Environmental Science and Policy, 2016. 66: p. 366-374.