Urban Thermal Diagnostics and Extreme Heat Vulnerability in Underrepresented Communities
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According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the globally averaged surface temperatures of the Earth have increased by 0.6 ± 0.2°C in the 20th century and models have projected that by 2100 (relative to 1990), the globally averaged surface air temperature to warm 1.4 to 5.8°C. Urban environments elevate rising temperatures in cities through urban heat island effect. With global urbanization increasing, this becomes a critical aspect of climate change for research to focus on. These increasing temperatures mean we are experiencing longer and more intense summers that are leading to extreme heat events called heat waves. These extreme heat events are increasing in frequency, duration, and intensity, and have been correlated with biophysical hazards such as heat stress, air pollution, and associated public health. These impacts are expected to be more intense within vulnerable populations such as the chronically ill, elderly, and young children. This makes it crucial to focus urban and building design strategies on the populations most at risk. This thesis identifies vulnerable communities as being more at risk to the effects of extreme heat. The method of investigation is under three main titles. These are, sequentially, data, analytics, evaluation, and strategies. The first section of the thesis focuses on collecting data that will support the definition of heat vulnerability as a combination of adaptive capacity, exposure, and sensitivity. The second segment analyzes and evaluates data which was previously collected, by simulating thermal comfort and temperatures during the current climate and future climate, qualitative methods which investigate the collected demographic and social data, and finally interpretation of all the remaining data. Finally, the research will investigate possible mitigation strategies in both the long term and short term. While the research will be applied to the specific Grove Park neighborhood, this gives us an opportunity to realize how important it is to begin identifying more communities which are at risk and applying similar strategies.