Heat Stress in Urban Environments: A Case Study of Heat Vulnerability in New Haven, CT

First name: 
Last name: 
Class Year: 
Xuhui Lee
Essay Abstract: 
A place-based understanding of heat and its behavior is necessary for appropriately preparing our cities and protecting the most vulnerable populations from this urgent climate and public health threat. This paper aims to identify the areas in New Haven, CT that have the highest autumnal temperature exposure and sensitivity to provide evidence for developing mitigation and adaptation measures. Original temperature data was collected using a bike-mounted Smart T sensor and then compared with data on land cover and water proximity. These heat exposure estimates were analyzed with 2019 Census data on age, income, race, and ethnicity, for 19 census tracts within 5 major neighborhoods. It was expected that heat distribution in New Haven would be concentrated in areas with less tree cover and less water proximity, as well as areas with high income and race sensitivity. The warmest neighborhood in the city was The Hill, closely followed by Dixwell. The Hill had low tree cover and higher heat exposure in the areas away from the water, as expected. Despite a positive relationship between both income and race with temperature (rs= .34 and rs= .41, respectively), it was not statistically significant—most likely due to seasonality and data set size. Further investigation of New Haven’s urban heat landscape in the summer months and at a larger scale is needed to fully understand heat vulnerability and to improve heat mitigation and adaptation measures.