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Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 1015;

Improving Heat-Related Health Outcomes in an Urban Environment with Science-Based Policy

School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44240, USA
School of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami, Gables, FL 33146, USA
Global Health Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Constantinos Cartalis and Matheos Santamouris
Received: 17 July 2016 / Revised: 25 September 2016 / Accepted: 28 September 2016 / Published: 12 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Heat Island)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1373 KB, uploaded 12 October 2016]   |  


We use the Northeast US Urban Climate Archipelago as a case study to explore three key limitations of planning and policy initiatives to mitigate extreme urban heat. These limitations are: (1) a lack of understanding of spatial considerations—for example, how nearby urban areas interact, affecting, and being affected by, implementation of such policies; (2) an emphasis on air temperature reduction that neglects assessments of other important meteorological parameters, such as humidity, mixing heights, and urban wind fields; and (3) too narrow of a temporal focus—either time of day, season, or current vs. future climates. Additionally, the absence of a direct policy/planning linkage between heat mitigation goals and actual human health outcomes, in general, leads to solutions that only indirectly address the underlying problems. These issues are explored through several related atmospheric modeling case studies that reveal the complexities of designing effective urban heat mitigation strategies. We conclude with recommendations regarding how policy-makers can optimize the performance of their urban heat mitigation policies and programs. This optimization starts with a thorough understanding of the actual end-point goals of these policies, and concludes with the careful integration of scientific knowledge into the development of location-specific strategies that recognize and address the limitations discussed herein. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban climate; urban heat island; heat-related mortality; heat island mitigation urban climate; urban heat island; heat-related mortality; heat island mitigation

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Sailor, D.; Shepherd, M.; Sheridan, S.; Stone, B.; Kalkstein, L.; Russell, A.; Vargo, J.; Andersen, T. Improving Heat-Related Health Outcomes in an Urban Environment with Science-Based Policy. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1015.

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