Urban Heat Island Mitigation

When heatwaves hit cities across the country, PSU researchers and citizen scientists hit the streets, driving vehicles equipped with highly sensitive thermometers to measure and map urban heat islands (areas that run 10 to 20 degrees hotter than the rest of the city) and help communities devise the best strategies to combat them.

Using interactive maps, the researchers overlay their location-specific heat data with information about demographics, air pollution, and local landscape features like roads, buildings, and trees—creating comprehensive tools that can help local governments pinpoint the most vulnerable areas of their cities and develop strategies for mitigating negative health impacts of extreme weather events.

Urban heat islands have a two-fold effect on health. The heat poses risks of dehydration, especially for elderly, homeless, and low-income communities, but it also turns air pollution into smog, increasing potential complications for people with heart or lung conditions. Shandas and his team have found that areas with high concentrations of asphalt, large buildings, and train tracks tend to run hotter, while areas with more tree canopy and greenery tend to run cooler. 

In the News


Vivek Shandas | Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, Research Director for ISS | shandas@pdx.edu