The Potential of Urban Heat Island Mitigation to Alleviate Heat Related Mortality: Methodological Overview and Preliminary Modeling Results for Philadelphia

Regions of intense urban development are distinct from their non-urban counterparts in several key ways. They are typically characterized by relatively lower albedo, lower vegetative cover/moisture availability, and significantly higher anthropogenic heating. The result of these differences is that cities tend to be warmer than their rural surroundings – a phenomenon widely referred to as the urban heat island (UHI).

The consequences of the UHI include reduced thermal comfort and increased summertime electricity loads, air pollution levels (particularly ozone), and incidence of heat-related illness and mortality. The causes of urban heat islands suggest possible mechanisms for mitigation. Specifically, there is significant ongoing interest in mitigating urban heat islands through large-scale implementation of programs designed to increase urban albedo, and/or vegetative cover.
In this study we investigate the potential implications of large-scale UHI mitigation on issues related to heat-related illness and mortality for a case study in Philadelphia PA.

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Presented at the 4th Symposium on the Urban Environment

Publication Date: May 2002

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