392 Urban Sustainability Maps Tool for City Development based on Climate, Human, and Spatial Components

Monday, 11 January 2016
Austin Taylor Bush, Auburn University, Auburn, AL; and C. Mitra

Urban Heat Islands and their thermodynamic nature can exacerbate the effects of severe weather events including heat waves and heavy precipitation. Thus it is important to understand the physical characteristics of individual cities, its vulnerabilities and potential for sustainable development to deal with the microclimatic variability within a city, UHIs and how they modify the dynamism of urban areas. The goal of this project is to develop a series of maps that focus on sustainable development for the overlapping cities of Auburn and Opelika in Alabama. Auburn-Opelika were selected due to the availability of data, ability to perform necessary field work, and the fact that Auburn and Opelika are currently experiencing rapid population growth and development. From 1980 to 2010, the population of Auburn has increased by 87.5%, so it is an ideal candidate when improving developmental planning is in mind. These maps should provide valuable information related to sustainable development and planning, which would prove useful for future city development goals. By coordinating with the cities' GIS and Planning offices, the data acquired and derived in process will aid in improvement of their GIS databases as well. Developing the Urban Sustainability Maps requires the collection and input of several different sets of data. The subsets of data include: Climatic Data, such as Local Climate Zones (LCZs), temperatures, precipitation amounts, wind speed and direction, and humidity levels; Geospatial Data, such as Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), landuse maps, soil type maps, and topographic maps; and Socioeconomic Data, such as population density and economic disparity within the cities. With the inclusion of the demographic data, USMs can assess potential effects on the city population from extreme weather events, while also assessing unique demographic groups. The methods used in creation of the USMs will be flexible in their location application, so for future research the methods used for the pilot study of Auburn-Opelika will be able to be used for other cities of similar size in their development. Projects like this are significant given the likelihood increase of extreme climatic events like hurricanes, heat and cold waves, and global temperatures as stated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) V report. The results of this research will highlight the importance of mitigation procedures such as increased vegetation, green spaces, energy-efficient building practices, and a reduction in emissions; all of which would ameliorate the UHI and other anthropogenic effects.
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