Interacting implications of climate change, population dynamics, and urban heat mitigation for future exposure to heat extremes (2019)

by Vahmani P, Jones AD, Patricola CM

in Environmental Research Letters

One near-term expression of climate change is increased occurrence and intensity of extreme heat events. The evolution of extreme heat risk in cities depends on the interactions of large-scale climate change with regional dynamics and urban micro-climates as well as the distribution and demographic characteristics of people who live and work within these micro-climate areas. Here we use California as a testbed where we employ a suite of high-resolution (1.5 km) future regional climate simulations coupled with a satellite-driven urban canopy model and a spatially explicit population projection to investigate the interacting effects of climate change, population growth, and urban heat mitigation measures, such as cool roofs, on exposure to extreme heat events. We find that climate change and population growth reinforce with one another to drive substantial increases in future exposure to heat extremes, which are poised to become more frequent, longer, and more intense. Exposure to events analogous to historic high-mortality extreme heat waves increases by 3.5–6 folds. Widespread implementation of cool roofs can offset a substantial fraction (51%–100%) of the increased heat exposure and associated building energy demand owing to climate change in urbanized regions.

Cite as:
Vahmani P, Jones AD, Patricola CM (2019) Interacting implications of climate change, population dynamics, and urban heat mitigation for future exposure to heat extremes, Environ. Res. Lett., 14, 084051. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab28b0

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