Attribution of mortality to the urban heat island during heatwaves in the West Midlands, UK

Author: Clare Heaviside, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Xiao-Ming Cai

Year: 2016

Published in: Environmental Health volume 15

The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect describes the phenomenon whereby cities are generally warmer than surrounding rural areas. Traditionally, temperature monitoring sites are placed outside of city centres, which means that point measurements do not always reflect the true air temperature of urban centres, and estimates of health impacts based on such data may under-estimate the impact of heat on public health. Climate change is likely to exacerbate heatwaves in future, but because climate projections do not usually include the UHI, health impacts may be further underestimated. These factors motivate a two-dimensional analysis of population weighted temperature across an urban area, for heat related health impact assessments, since populations are typically densest in urban centres, where ambient temperatures are highest and the UHI is most pronounced. We investigate the sensitivity of health impact estimates to the use of population weighting and the inclusion of urban temperatures in exposure data.