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Article

Heat Vulnerability and Heat Island Mitigation in the United States

by 1,* and 2
1
Climate Change Research Team, Korea Energy Economics Institute, 405-11 Jongga-ro, Jung-gu, Ulsan 44543, Korea
2
Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture, 446 W. Circle Drive, Room 67, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 558; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060558
Received: 16 March 2020 / Revised: 13 May 2020 / Accepted: 20 May 2020 / Published: 27 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Hazards)
Heat waves are the deadliest type of natural hazard among all weather extremes in the United States. Given the observed and anticipated increase in heat risks associated with ongoing climate change, this study examines community vulnerability to extreme heat and the degree to which heat island mitigation (HIM) actions by state/local governments reduce heat-induced fatalities. The analysis uses all heat events that occurred over the 1996–2011 period for all United States counties to model heat vulnerability. Results show that: (1) Higher income reduces extreme heat vulnerability, while poverty intensifies it; (2) living in mobile homes or rental homes heightens susceptibility to extreme heat; (3) increased heat vulnerability due to the growth of the elderly population is predicted to result in a two-fold increase in heat-related fatalities by 2030; and (4) community heat island mitigation measures reduce heat intensities and thus heat-related fatalities. Findings also show that an additional locally implemented measure reduces the annual death rate by 15%. A falsification test rules out the possibility of spurious inference on the life-saving role of heat island mitigation measures. Overall, these findings inform efforts to protect the most vulnerable population subgroups and guide future policies to counteract the growing risk of deadly heat waves. View Full-Text
Keywords: disaster; vulnerability; extreme heat; heat island mitigation; development; aging; poverty; housing; urbanization disaster; vulnerability; extreme heat; heat island mitigation; development; aging; poverty; housing; urbanization
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lim, J.; Skidmore, M. Heat Vulnerability and Heat Island Mitigation in the United States. Atmosphere 2020, 11, 558. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060558

AMA Style

Lim J, Skidmore M. Heat Vulnerability and Heat Island Mitigation in the United States. Atmosphere. 2020; 11(6):558. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060558

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lim, Jungmin, and Mark Skidmore. 2020. "Heat Vulnerability and Heat Island Mitigation in the United States" Atmosphere 11, no. 6: 558. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060558

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