Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2017 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

A social-ecological-technical systems approach to modeling future scenarios of heat and heat vulnerability in New York City
McPhearson, Timon
Co-Authors: Carson Famer, Khila Dahal, Yaella Depietri, Zoé Hamstead, Jaskirat Randhawa, Daniel Sauter

Abstract: Heat waves cause more deaths than any other natural hazard in the United States (Klinenberg, 2002; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2014) and avoiding negative health impacts of heat and heat waves is an increasing priority in city decision-making (O’Neill et al., 2009). Knowing who is most at risk of health related impacts of heat waves including mortality and morbidity is a critical step in prioritizing social (e.g. improved social cohesion), ecological (e.g. planting trees and installing green roofs), and technical infrastructural (e.g. A/C and cooling centers) interventions to ameliorate urban heat and negative heat wave impacts. We extend the structure of urban landscapes approach (STURLA) tested in New York City (NYC) and Berlin (Hamstead et al. 2015; Larondelle et al. 2014) and recent climate projections from the New York City Panel on Climate Change (Horton et al. 2015) to project future heat scenarios at parcel scale resolution for the city. Building on current heat risk and vulnerability assessment and applying dasymmetric mapping of US Census social-demography data we build a spatially explicit scenario model to examine how population size, population density, changes in building height, land cover, land use, and social-demographic indicators of heat vulnerability (age, income, race/ethnicity) interact to drive scenarios of future heat vulnerability. The scenario model is designed to explicitly incorporate a social-ecological-technical systems (SETS) approach to understanding urban systems patterns and processes for shedding light on possible future impacts of heat in the city. Scenarios for increased tree canopy cover and other “nature-based solutions” for decreasing heat and heat impacts in the city are one possible suite of scenarios explored through collaboration with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resilence and the “Cool Neighborhoods” program launched in 2017. We discuss possible applications to Baltimore through collaboration with BES and the NSF Urban Resilience to Weather-related Extreme Events ( project. Finally, we present a unique 3D data visualization interactive environment to explore current and future improving science communication and decision-support in planning and policy.