A Simulation Platform to Enhance Infrastructure and Community Resilience to Extreme Heat Events

Project: Research project

Description

Overview: Exposure to heat is a growing public health concern in many cities across the globe. In the US, Southwest cities have experienced increasing numbers of heat waves in the past few decades, and global climate models project significant increases in both the duration and intensity of these extreme events. Facing these challenges, we still know very little about how people are exposed to heat during their day-to-day activities as they interact with urban infrastructure. To understand exposure, we must consider the types of homes people live in (and whether they have and use air conditioning), their mobility choices, the quality of the infrastructure (e.g., shading, landscaping, and material choice), their work situation (e.g., air conditioned office versus outdoor worker), and their activity profiles. As cities look to deploy strategies to protect people from heat, many of which involve modifications to or deployment of new urban infrastructure, new insight is needed into how people go about their daily activities thereby exposing themselves to heat, the profiles of high risk day-to-day activities, how building use and mobility choice contributes to exposure, and the strategies that can be implemented to protect those who are most socially vulnerable. A systematic framework that any city can use to understand how people are exposed to heat and proactively mitigate this risk is needed.

Intellectual Merit: To create insight into how people are exposed to heat, we will develop an Urban Activity Heat Simulation (UAHS) platform. This platform will join i) a model of residential and workplace exposure, ii) microscopic travel simulations for automobile use, public transit, and biking/walking, iii) urban infrastructure characteristics, iv) high-resolution urban climate data, and v) a model of exposure thresholds. UAHS will be developed using Phoenix, Arizona and Los Angeles, California as case studies. Building heat performance models will be combined with surveys of home and work activities to assess how people experience heat indoors. Using national and regional travel surveys combined with microscopic travel models, simulations of how people move throughout cities will be developed. Downscaled climate models will be used to estimate present and future outdoor conditions in both cities. Information on infrastructure including materials, landscaping, and shading will also be used to develop estimates of outdoor exposure. Combining simulated exposures with health records will provide new insight into dangerous heat exposure profiles. The platform will be validated with in situ monitoring. UAHS will be developed with the goal of enabling any city to build upon the platform for their unique population and infrastructure. The benefits of strategies that reduce exposure will be explored including increased AC penetration and changes in travel behavior.

Broader Impacts: The UAHS platform will create novel insight into how people are exposed to heat and the strategies that cities can use to change activities and infrastructure to reduce exposure. Through partnerships with practitioners in each city, a module for UAHS will be developed to teach decisionmakers how to proactively recognize which activities and people are most vulnerable and mitigate this vulnerability and empower them to test the efficacy of different intervention strategies in a simulated environment. Classroom modules will teach graduate and undergraduate students about heat vulnerability by embedding them in the research to collect and analyze data on heat exposure in various activities and infrastructure conditions. Multidisciplinary education materials for future professionals in engineering, medicine, social sciences, planning, and public health will be produced.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date8/1/167/31/20

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $450,000.00

Fingerprint

Hot Temperature
Climate models
Public health
Social sciences
Air conditioning
Automobiles
Medicine
Education
Health
Students
Planning
Monitoring
Air