Modelling the health impacts of the Urban Heat Island, and the potential benefits of mitigation interventions across the West Midlands
PHE ePoster Library. Macintyre H. 09/13/16; 138085; 37
Dr. Helen Macintyre
Dr. Helen Macintyre
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Abstract Heatwaves are associated with a wide range of adverse health effects, which can lead to emergency hospitalisations and increased mortality. In towns and cities, the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect i.e. higher ambient temperatures in the city compared with surrounding rural areas, particularly at night, can exacerbate these health effects. The UHI is often amplified during summer heatwave periods.Birmingham is a highly urbanised area with a pronounced UHI. During July 2006, high temperatures and excess mortality were experienced across the West Midlands, where excess deaths during the heatwave period were around 10% above baseline rates.Understanding the pattern of risk across a region such as the West Midlands is valuable, as it may help target resources to reduce heat risk in the most vulnerable areas. Actions or interventions to reduce the intensity of the UHI are also important. Measures such as retrofitting of buildings, for example, cool (reflective) or green roofs, or other types of urban vegetation, are possible ways to reduce the intensity of the UHI, and thus reduce population exposure to heat.We use a regional meteorological model with a detailed representation of urban areas to study the UHI across the West Midlands. We present results of spatial analysis of the UHI and investigate interventions such as cool roofs and urban greening, which may reduce exposure to high temperature during a heatwave period. External funding details The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Environmental Change and Health.
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