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Assessing Inequitable Urban Heat Islands and Air Pollution Disparities with Low-Cost Sensors in Richmond, Virginia
Article

Thermal Inequity in Richmond, VA: The Effect of an Unjust Evolution of the Urban Landscape on Urban Heat Islands

1
Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA 23173, USA
2
Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23220, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Troy Abel
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1511; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031511
Received: 28 October 2020 / Revised: 25 January 2021 / Accepted: 28 January 2021 / Published: 1 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Justice and Sustainability)
The urban heat island (UHI) effect is caused by intensive development practices in cities and the diminished presence of green space that results. The evolution of these phenomena has occurred over many decades. In many cities, historic zoning and redlining practices barred Black and minority groups from moving into predominately white areas and obtaining financial resources, a practice that still affects cities today, and has forced these already disadvantaged groups to live in some of the hottest areas. In this study, we used a new dataset on the spatial distribution of temperature during a heat wave in Richmond, Virginia to investigate potential associations between extreme heat and current and historical demographic, socioeconomic, and land use factors. We assessed these data at the census block level to determine if blocks with large differences in temperature also had significant variation in these covariates. The amount of canopy cover, percent impervious surface, and poverty level were all shown to be strong correlates of UHI when analyzed in conjunction with afternoon temperatures. We also found strong associations of historical policies and planning decisions with temperature using data from the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab’s “Mapping Inequality” project. Finally, the Church Hill area of the city provided an interesting case study due to recent data suggesting the area’s gentrification. Differences in demographics, socioeconomic factors, and UHI were observed between north and (more gentrified) south Church Hill. Both in Church Hill and in Richmond overall, our research found that areas occupied by people of low socioeconomic status or minority groups disproportionately experienced extreme heat and corresponding impacts on health and quality of life. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban heat islands; socioeconomic inequity; temperature; poverty; redlining; race urban heat islands; socioeconomic inequity; temperature; poverty; redlining; race
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MDPI and ACS Style

Saverino, K.C.; Routman, E.; Lookingbill, T.R.; Eanes, A.M.; Hoffman, J.S.; Bao, R. Thermal Inequity in Richmond, VA: The Effect of an Unjust Evolution of the Urban Landscape on Urban Heat Islands. Sustainability 2021, 13, 1511. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031511

AMA Style

Saverino KC, Routman E, Lookingbill TR, Eanes AM, Hoffman JS, Bao R. Thermal Inequity in Richmond, VA: The Effect of an Unjust Evolution of the Urban Landscape on Urban Heat Islands. Sustainability. 2021; 13(3):1511. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031511

Chicago/Turabian Style

Saverino, Kelly C., Emily Routman, Todd R. Lookingbill, Andre M. Eanes, Jeremy S. Hoffman, and Rong Bao. 2021. "Thermal Inequity in Richmond, VA: The Effect of an Unjust Evolution of the Urban Landscape on Urban Heat Islands" Sustainability 13, no. 3: 1511. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031511

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