J42.4 A Stakeholder-Guided Heat Vulnerability Analysis for Las Cruces, New Mexico

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 11:15 AM
Room 17B (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Rebia Khan, NASA, Hampton, VA; and J. O'Brien, C. Wilson, F. Jia, L. E. Watkins, and D. M. Hondula

Extreme heat during the summer months is a major public health issue in many cities worldwide. Local governments are increasing efforts to mitigate heat in cities through the implementation of infrastructural adaptations including expansion of the urban tree canopy and white roofing, as well as revising design guidelines and principles for new construction. These strategies will be most beneficial for public health if they are deployed in places where risks of heat exposure are elevated as a result of higher temperatures and higher social vulnerability. In this project, we partnered with the Las Cruces Sustainability Office to identify areas in the city most affected by extreme heat. We used Landsat data and aerial imagery from the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) to construct a time series of Las Cruces’ urban heat patterns from 1999 to 2016 and assess the influence that tree cover and impervious surfaces have on those patterns. Extreme heat social vulnerability indicators were collected from census and health records at the census tract level. We relied on both literature review and input from our partners to assemble a set of heat vulnerability indicators that were locally relevant for decision-making in Las Cruces. These indicators were then grouped and scored to describe the sensitivity of the population to extreme heat in five major themes: Household Composition, Minority Status, Economic Stability, Transportation and Housing, and Health. The heat vulnerability indicators, urban heat island assessment, and urban heat island morphology comparison collectively identify areas of high concern – areas with both high exposure and high social vulnerability. Developed with emphasis on the needs of the stakeholder, these maps will serve as tools that the Las Cruces Sustainability Office can use to improve their resilience and mitigation efforts.
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