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Urban Form and Extreme Heat Events: Are Sprawling Cities More Vulnerable to Climate Change Than Compact Cities?

Brian Stone, Jeremy J. Hess and Howard Frumkin
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 118, No. 10, Children's Health 2010 (OCTOBER 2010), pp. 1425-1428
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20778591
Page Count: 4
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Abstract

Background: Extreme heat events (EHEs) are increasing in frequency in large U.S. cities and are responsible for a greater annual number of climate-related fatalities, on average, than any other form of extreme weather. In addition, low-density, sprawling patterns of urban development have been associated with enhanced surface temperatures in urbanized areas. Objectives: In this study. we examined the association between urban form at the level of the metropolitan region and the frequency of EHEs over a five-decade period. Methods: We employed a widely published sprawl index to measure the association between urban form in 2000 and the mean annual rate of change in EHEs between 1956 and 2005. Results: We found that the rate of increase in the annual number of EHEs between 1956 and 2005 in the most sprawling metropolitan regions was more than double the rate of increase observed in the most compact metropolitan regions. Conclusions: The design and management of land use in metropolitan regions may offer an important tool for adapting to the heat-related health effects associated with ongoing climate change.

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