Using NASA Earth Science Datasets for National Climate Assessment Indicators: Urban Impacts of Heat Waves Associated with Climate Change

Friday, 19 December 2014
Stephanie Weber1, Natasha Sadoff1, Erica R Zell2 and Alex de Sherbinin3, (1)Battelle Columbus, Columbus, OH, United States, (2)Battelle, Arlington, VA, United States, (3)Columbia University, CIESIN, Palisades, NY, United States
Climate-induced heat waves have been increasing globally in the past 5-10 years and are projected to continue increasing throughout the 21st century. In urban areas, heat waves are exacerbated by the non-climate stressor of urban heat islands (UHIs). The vulnerability of a city’s population to heat waves reflects exposure to extreme heat events, sensitivity of the population to impacts, such as adverse health effects, and adaptive capacity to prepare for and respond to heat waves. Socially and economically vulnerable populations are especially at risk to the impacts of heat waves, due to increasing energy costs, air pollution, and heat-related illness and mortality. NASA earth science datasets, combined with socioeconomic data, can be used to create indicators that characterize vulnerability to urban heat events and address the effectiveness of adaptation measures designed to reduce local temperatures. The indicator development process should include engagement from local stakeholders and end users from the onset to ensure local relevance and, ultimately, indicator uptake and sustainability. This presentation will explore the process of working with urban stakeholders in Philadelphia to develop a set of policy-relevant, interdisciplinary vulnerability indicators focused on extreme heat events in urban areas. Ambient and land surface temperature, land cover classifications, NDVI, and US Census data are used to create a basket of indicators that reflect urban heat wave duration and intensity, UHI exposure, socioeconomic vulnerability, and adaptation effectiveness. These indicators can be assessed at the city level and also comparatively among different parts of a city to help quantify and track heat wave impacts on vulnerable populations and the effectiveness of adaptation measures.