An urban atmospheric modeling study was undertaken with the goal of informing the development of a heat-mitigation plan for the greater Sacramento Valley, California. Realistic levels of mitigation measures were characterized and ranked in terms of their effectiveness in producing urban cooling under current conditions and future climate and land use. An urban heat-island index was computed for current and future climates based on each location’s time-varying upwind temperature reference points and its hourly temperatures per coincident wind direction. For instance, the UHII for the period 16–31 July 2015, for all-hours averaged temperature equivalent (i.e., °C · h hr−1
), ranged from 1.5 to 4.7 °C across the urban areas in the region. The changes in local microclimates corresponding to future conditions were then quantified by applying a modified high-resolution urban meteorology model in dynamically downscaling a climate model along with future urbanization and land use change projections for each area. It was found that the effects of urbanization were of the same magnitude as that of the local climate change. Considering the urban areas in the region and the selected emissions scenarios, the all-hours temperature equivalent of the UHII (°C · h hr−1
) increased by between 0.24 and 0.80 °C, representing an increase of between 17% and 13% of their respective values in the current climate. Locally, instantaneous (e.g., hourly) temperatures could increase by up to ~3 °C because of climate effects and up to ~5 °C because of both climate and urbanization changes. The efficacies of urban heat mitigation measures were ranked both at the county level and at local project scales. It was found that urban cooling measures could help decrease or offset exceedances in the National Weather Service heat index (NWS HI) above several warning thresholds and reduce the number of heatwave or excessive heat event days. For example, measures that combine increased albedo and urban forests can reduce the exceedances above NWS HI Danger level by between 50% and 100% and the exceedances above Extreme Caution level by between 18% and 36%. UHII offsets from each mitigation measure were quantified for two situations: (1) a scenario where a community implements cooling measures and no other nearby communities take any action and (2) a scenario where both the community and its upwind neighbors implement cooling measures. In this second situation, the community benefits from cooler air transported from upwind areas in addition to the local cooling resulting from implementation of its own heat mitigation strategies. The modeling of future climates showed that except for a number of instances, the ranking of measures in each respective urban area remains unchanged into the future.
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