A Conceptual Framework for Environmental Risk and Social Vulnerability Assessment in Complex Urban Settings
High numbers of weather-related mortalities are associated with extreme heat events in the United States. Satellite data confirms that urbanization leads to higher temperatures within microclimates and formation of heat pockets that are linked to higher risks of heat-related illnesses and heat stroke. The goal of this study was to examine the influence of different surface types on the impact of UHI by looking at physical properties of the urban system through a framework to formulate risk and social vulnerabilities. A conceptual model was developed using data from Landsat, department of building, U.S. census, and USGS. The factors of interest include people, the environment, and building/infrastructure. This model quantifies risk as a function of temperature and physical properties of the surrounding environment. Results show neighborhoods of Manhattan, Queens, and Bronx are at the highest risk of social and environmental vulnerability and should be targeted for policy changes, implementation of green infrastructures, and vegetation coverage to counteract the heating effects. Neighborhoods that need to be targeted for urban planning due to high environmental risk are Harlem, Upper Manhattan, East Harlem, Elmhurst, Jamaica, Ridgewood, Flatbush, University Heights, and Woodlawn.