Developing Future Mitigation Practices: The Application of Research Identifying Socio-Spatial Indications of Extreme Heat Risk

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 8:45 AM
Room C213 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Austin C. Stanforth, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN

Severe weather events are expected to increase in the future, making improved mitigation procedures a priority for researchers. Among the threats expected to become more severe are heat waves, which are already considered to be one of the primary causes of weather-related mortality throughout the world. While other severe storms (i.e. tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc.) visibly reveal their approach through cloud fronts, heat has little visible warning making meteorological equipment and public announcements a necessity to forecast risk. Extrapolation of peripheral information left in a heat wave's wake, such as urban heat island signatures and medical records, can allow researchers the ability to identify features of the environment which exacerbate the influence of heat and social characteristics common to historically impacted populations. Combining both aspects can allow for the development of improved warning systems and mitigation plans which focus on vulnerable populations. Just as climate and weather are not consistent between geographically diverse areas; heat vulnerability is not universal. Studies have shown temperament to heat and vulnerability characteristics vary between both cities and distinct time periods. This suggests heat warning systems need to be site specific and will require upgrades as urban landscapes and populations continue to evolve. Only through these conditions will the warning systems maintain the ability to best identify vulnerable populations. It is also the responsibility of researcher to explore ways in which their results can be utilized. As methodologies for identifying disparities of heat vulnerability continue to be explored, the ability to implement the results become just as important. The research cannot benefit society without a proper way to convey the results to city personal who are in a position to aid in heat response plans. Without this crucial step, there can be no improvements of warning systems or building policy to reduce the risk associated with extreme heat events. This involves research into improving land planning, development, and simplifying warning systems for use by the general public.