Project A2-3 Assessing the thermal comfort implications of water-supported urban infrastructure at the human scale

 

David Hondula, PhD

Arizona State University
School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Reducing the adverse health impacts of heat exposure in cities has emerged as a shared priority among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers involved in many aspects of urban systems. Many of the strategies currently in place to reduce health risks related to heat exposure rely on water resources. UWIN project A2-3 investigates what will happen to the thermal comfort of urban residents, and risks of heat-related illness, in the face of changes to urban water systems driven by climatic variability and infrastructure modification.A2-3_side by side

The first project objective is to assess the microclimatic conditions experienced by urban dwellers through the course of their daily lives, integrating indoor, outdoor, and transit-based exposures into metrics oriented around people rather than places. To make this assessment, we use large-scale time-activity data sets and direct observations, combined with high-resolution information about urban microclimates.

The second project objective is to quantify how changes in urban infrastructure, especially infrastructure elements supported by water, as well as changes in the urban climate, will impact the thermal comfort and risk of heat-related illness of urban residents. This objective will be achieved by combining time-activity and exposure information with projections from other UWIN projects. The project incorporates the perspectives of public health sector stakeholders gathered through a series of interviews across the UWIN study regions to ensure that research activities are aligned with public health priorities.

DATA

Project A2-3 will generate four different types of data outputs:

  1. Direct micrometeorological characterizations of environments utilized by urban dwellers;
  2. Information about time-activity patterns of urban residents;
  3. Modeled thermal stress of urban residents in current and modeled future conditions; and
  4. Transcripts and analysis of health sector perspectives on urban water systems and implications for heat-related illness

A2-3_Thermography_L8

Locals and visitors can kayak right in downtown Denver's own backyard.

Locals and visitors can kayak right in downtown Denver’s own backyard.

Project A2-3 is intended to benefit a wide range of decision-makers by providing more detailed information and a more comprehensive perspective regarding the implications of changes to the urban thermal environment and urban water systems for human health.  Project results will be of interest to those considering changes to urban infrastructure that have the potential to directly or indirectly impact the thermal experience of urban residents.

For example, a common water-dependent strategy to improve thermal comfort in cities is the expansion of urban tree canopy and green space; cities across the globe are pursuing aggressive goals related to urban greening, planting new trees on public land, and incentivizing or encouraging tree planting on public land. Revitalization of surface water bodies in cities like lakes, ponds, streams, and canals is also occurring in many localities. Our project aims to support the decision-making process ahead of the deployment of these types of interventions by more holistically capturing the impacts to human health and well-being. Instead of focusing only on the environmental changes that will occur as a result of these projects, we also consider the extent to which these changes impact the thermal experience of the people that use the spaces in cities slated for change.

Journal Papers

  • Kuras ER, Bernhard MC, Calkins MM, Ebi KL, Hess JJ, Kintziger KW, Jagger MA, Middel A, Scott AA, Spector JT, Uejio CK, Vanos JK, Zaitchik BF, Gohlke JM, Hondula DM, 2016. Opportunities and Challenges for Personal Heat Exposure Research. Environmental Health Perspectives, in press.

 

Related Materials

 

 

Hondula_David_Profile

David Hondula, PhD – Principal Investigator

Associate Professor
School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Arizona State University
Voice: (480) 965-4794
Email: david.hondula@asu.edu

David Hondula’s research examines the societal impacts of weather and climate with an emphasis on extreme weather and health. Recent projects include statistical analysis of health and environmental data sets to improve understanding of the impact of high temperatures on human morbidity and mortality, especially within urban areas. Hondula is also engaged in quantitative and qualitative field work to learn how individuals experience and cope with extreme heat in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Developing research considers how to facilitate effective governance and communication strategies for climate adaptation. These efforts are motivated by the overarching goal of reducing unnecessary weather-related illnesses and deaths through effective mitigation and intervention strategies.

Prior to joining ASU, Hondula received his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and was a visiting scholar at Umeå University in Umeå, Sweden and Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Hondula currently serves as a Director for the Association of American Geographers’ Climate Specialty Group, and is also member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), International Association for Urban Climate (IAUC), International Society of Biometeorology (ISB), and International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE)

Senior Project Personnel

Ariane Middel – Research Scientist

Arizona State University
Email: middel@asu.edu

 

Jennifer Vanos – Research Scientist

University of California – San Diego
Email: jkvanos@as.ucsd.edu

 

 

Matei Georgescu  – Research Scientist

Arizona State University
Email: georgescu@asu.edu

 

Sharon Harlan  – Research Scientist

Northeastern University
Email: harlan@northeastern.edu

 

Elizabeth Mack – Research Scientist

Michigan State University
Email: emack@msu.edu

 

 

Post-Doctoral Fellows & Graduate Students

Mary Wright

Arizona State University
Email: mkwrigh1@asu.edu

Lance Watkins

Arizona State University
Email: lewatkin@asu.edu

Paul Chakalian

Arizona State University
Email: chakalian@asu.edu

Scott Krayenhoff

Arizona State University
Email: krayenhoff@asu.edu

Harrison Ambrose

Arizona State University
Email: ambrose@asu.edu

Alanna Kaiser

Penn State University
Email: ank5283@psu.edu
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