AGU 2017 Oral Presentation by Anamika Shreevastava: Characterizing the intra-urban spatiotemporal dynamics of High Heat Stress Zones (Hotspots)

Center for the Environment
December 11, 2017
8:35 AM - 8:55 AM
New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center - 267-268


In this study, we present an innovative framework to characterize the spatio-temporal dynamics of High Heat Stress Zones (Hot spots) created within an Urban area in the event of a Heat Wave. Heat waves are one of the leading causes of weather-related human mortality in many countries, and cities receive its worst brunt. The extreme heat stress within urban areas is often a synergistic combination of large-scale meteorological events, and the locally exacerbated impacts due to Urban Heat Islands (UHI). UHI is typically characterized as the difference between mean temperature of the urban and rural area. As a result, it fails to capture the significant variability that exists within the city itself. This variability arises from the diverse and complex spatial geometries of cities. Previous studies that have attempted to quantify the heat stress at an intra-urban scale are labor intensive, expensive, and difficult to emulate globally as they rely on availability of extensive data and their assimilation. The proposed study takes advantage of the well-established notion of fractal properties of cities to make the methods scalable to other cities where in-situ observational data might not be available.

As an input, land surface temperatures are estimated using Landsat data. Using clustering analysis, we probe the emergence of thermal hotspots. The probability distributions (PD) of these hotspots are found to follow a power-law distribution in agreement with fractal characteristics of the city. PDs of several archetypical cities are then investigated to compare the effect of different spatial structures (e.g. monocentric v/s polycentric, sprawl v/s compact). Further, the temporal variability of the distributions on a diurnal as well as a seasonal scale is discussed. Finally, the spatiotemporal dynamics of the urban hotspots under a heat-wave (E.g. Delhi Heat wave, 2015) are compared against the non-heat wave scenarios.

In summary, a technique that is globally adaptive and scale independent, achieved by building on the fractal properties of cities, is presented here. Identification of hotspots and a diagnosis of their characteristics will help in targeting resources judiciously to those areas that warrant the most attention, thereby helping design cities which better mitigate heat stress.

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