ASU In the News

Experts discuss Phoenix's heat island effect

<p>BBC Mundo has posted on their Web site a Spanish-language article and video about the urban heat island effect. Among the experts offering insight into this timely issue are members of a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional team – that includes ASU faculty and graduate students – investigating the effects of heat on <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Phoenix</st1:place></st1:city> residents.</p><p>ASU members featured by BBC Mundo are geographer <st1:personname w:st="on">Juan Declet</st1:personname>, a doctoral student in the <st1:placetype w:st="on">School</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Human Evolution</st1:placename> and Social Change in the <st1:placetype w:st="on">College</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Liberal Arts</st1:placename> and Sciences, and geographer and climatologist Tony Brazel, associate director of the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">School</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Geographical Sciences</st1:placename></st1:place> and Urban Planning. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the group’s collaborative research project is titled Urban Vulnerability to Climate Change: A System Dynamics Approach.</p><p><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Phoenix</st1:city></st1:place>, while known for its daytime high temperatures, is now experiencing rising nighttime temperatures and has seen a 7-degree Celsius increase over the last 50 years. The city’s explosive growth rate is thought to be the cause behind this rapid rise in temperature and the catalyst for the heat island effect, which has been brought about by the construction of buildings, roads, parking lots and other structures that retain and radiate heat long after the sun has set.</p><p>Findings indicate that <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Phoenix</st1:city></st1:place>’s most vulnerable populations – the homeless and those with limited resources – are suffering the most from climbing urban heat. The lack of vegetation in low-income areas, as well as skyrocketing electricity costs and limited or no access to air conditioning, make summers brutal for many of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Phoenix</st1:city></st1:place>’s economically disadvantaged.</p><p>Declet says that data shows the warmest areas of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Phoenix</st1:place></st1:city> are also the ones inhabited by low-income populations and are heavily African American and Latin American.</p><p>Brazel notes that local authorities are starting to boost their efforts at mitigating urban heat and its effects. Some are joining with ASU to develop better construction materials and learn about the use of shading devices, water and vegetation to lower temperatures. Brazel is hopeful of the many initiatives – from the local arena to the national level – coming into being to deal with the effects of climate change.</p>

Article Source: BBC Mundo
Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change