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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Oct 6;49(19):11303-11. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b03127. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

A Heat Vulnerability Index and Adaptation Solutions for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Department of Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, United States.
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, United States.


With increasing evidence of global warming, many cities have focused attention on response plans to address their populations' vulnerabilities. Despite expected increased frequency and intensity of heat waves, the health impacts of such events in urban areas can be minimized with careful policy and economic investments. We focus on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and ask two questions. First, what are the top factors contributing to heat vulnerability and how do these characteristics manifest geospatially throughout Pittsburgh? Second, assuming the City wishes to deploy additional cooling centers, what placement will optimally address the vulnerability of the at risk populations? We use national census data, ArcGIS geospatial modeling, and statistical analysis to determine a range of heat vulnerability indices and optimal cooling center placement. We find that while different studies use different data and statistical calculations, all methods tested locate additional cooling centers at the confluence of the three rivers (Downtown), the northeast side of Pittsburgh (Shadyside/Highland Park), and the southeast side of Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill). This suggests that for Pittsburgh, a researcher could apply the same factor analysis procedure to compare data sets for different locations and times; factor analyses for heat vulnerability are more robust than previously thought.

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