Vulnerability and Adaptation to Urban Heat Islands: A GIS-Based Evaluation

Auteur Susanne KNODEL
Directeur /trice Duvilar
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s)
Résumé de la thèse

This project aims to develop an innovative methodological approach to identify the risk of heat islands in cities and evaluate feasible adaptation measures to improve the quality of urban environments. The process of urbanization has a strong impact on rising temperatures in cities through the formation of urban heat islands (UHI). This provokes a thermal discomfort for the population as well as an increase in health problems. Heat stress conditions also result in reduced work capacity and increased energy consumption from air conditioned buildings. The relation between urban areas and their effects on climate have been well documented by numerous urban climatology researchers; however, the existing tools of urban planning policies do not consider the impact of new buildings or urban development on the local micro-climate quality. This research identifies the policy response, known as “adaptation”, to the urban heat island phenomenon which is amplified by climate change. It is therefore important to look at three spatial scales (buildings, neighborhoods and cities) in order to determine whether planned adaptation will reduce the risk of those who are most vulnerable. This project integrates Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) methodology to develop a map-based Urban Heat Riskscape Index (UHRI) with physical exposure and socio-economic vulnerability components, which will help decision-makers to evaluate the optimal measures for adaptation. Furthermore, the impact of similar adaptation strategies for altering the intensity of urban heat islands, mainly the implementation of green roofs and street greenery, will be evaluated. A numerical urban micro-climate simulation technology will be applied to analyze the impact of different urban morphology typologies and adaptation strategies on the local micro-climate in order to validate the Urban Heat Riskscape Index. The numerical urban simulation model will identify how an increase in the urban temperature, attributed to the urban heat island phenomenon, affects building energy consumption due to the cooling and heating demands for different urban morphologies. The numerical urban simulation will also allow for an analysis of the water requirement needed to maintain such cooling measures. Subsequently, a social cost-benefit analysis will be carried out in order to rank and classify the most promising and feasible adaptation options. This research will contribute to creating a good indication of how urban planning actions can influence the urban climate and will propose a new way to think about urban heat islands spatially which integrates adaptation measures in order to create an urban morphology that is more resilient to the adverse impacts of climate change.

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