Potential benefits of Urban Heat Island mitigation techniques and building retrofit for reduced heat-exposure across the West Midlands
PHE ePoster Library. Macintyre H. Apr 9, 2019; 259614; 15598
Dr. Helen Macintyre
Dr. Helen Macintyre
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Abstract Heatwaves are associated with a range of adverse health effects, which can lead to emergency hospitalisations and increased mortality. In towns and cities, air temperatures are often higher than in surrounding rural areas, particularly at night. This Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect can exacerbate health impacts associated with heat exposure. The UHI is often amplified during summer heatwave periods, and heatwaves are likely to become more frequent, intense, and longer, due to climate change. Birmingham in the West Midlands is a highly urbanised area with a distinct UHI. Recent work suggests that up to half of heat-related mortality in the West Midlands during the 2003 heatwave could be attributed to the UHI. High temperatures and excess mortality also occurred in July 2006 in this region. Actions or interventions to reduce the intensity of the UHI could potentially reduce heat-risk. Retrofitting of buildings, for example, installing cool (reflective) roofs, or other types of interventions such as increasing urban vegetation, are possible ways to reduce the intensity of the UHI, and thus reduce population exposure to heat. In this study we use a regional weather model with a detailed representation of urban areas to study the UHI across the West Midlands. We present results of the impact of interventions such as cool roofs and green space on reducing exposure to high ambient temperatures for a summer season, and for two heatwave periods. Our modelling suggests that during heatwaves, cool roofs could reduce mean UHI intensity by 23%, and reduce heat-related mortality attributed to the UHI by 25%. Results show targeting the most urbanised areas of a city could contribute more than half of this reduction during heatwaves, and modifying half of all industrial/commercial urban areas could have the same impact as modifying buildings in all high-intensity residential areas of the West Midlands.
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