Fourth Symposium on the Urban Environment


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

David J. Sailor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA; and L. S. Kalkstein and E. Wong

It is well established that urban areas can be significantly warmer than their less developed surroundings. This Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect can have detrimental impacts on human health through its contribution to heat-related illness and urban air quality. Various methods have been suggested for mitigating the urban heat island including increasing urban albedo and vegetative cover. The focus of recent research on UHI mitigation measures has been on the potential benefits in terms of improved ambient air quality and reduced urban energy consumption for air conditioning. In this research we use the MM5 mesoscale atmospheric model to investigate the potential meteorological impacts of city-scale albedo enhancement. These results are linked to a heat-related mortality analysis to provide a cursory assessment of the potential implications of UHI mitigation for heat related mortality.

We have identified “oppressive air masses” for Philadelphia, which have historically been associated with elevated human mortality during hot weather, and identified a small number of representative episodes for modeling. Comparing the meteorological data sets for the modeled UHI mitigation scenarios to the baseline runs assuming no mitigation measures, we have evaluated two important heat/health relationships for Philadelphia: the change in the number of oppressive air mass days and the change in estimated heat-related mortality.

This paper summarizes the methodology and discusses the following results for this case study of Philadelphia: 1. The number of oppressive air mass days is decreased in the downtown area; 2. The severity of the remaining oppressive days is generally diminished; and 3. there is a marked reduction in estimated heat-related mortality under the UHI mitigation measures.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (36K)

Session 7, Urban biometeorology
Tuesday, 21 May 2002, 2:15 PM-4:28 PM

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