Urban Green Infrastructure and the Day-Night “Humid-Heat Islands” of the Northeast U.S.

This project aims to decipher the largely ignored “humid-heat island” conditions in the urban Northeast U.S., while quantifying the influences of green infrastructure projects in altering these conditions. Northeastern cities are humid environments, suffer from higher rates of warming of nights than days, and are subject to urban greening efforts, making them promising sites of interest for humid-heat assessments and mitigation. Related work has been limited to dry, hot, water-limited environments, ignoring the critical role humidity plays to dictate the human body’s physiological functions.

Six major cities in the Northeastern U.S. will be evaluated for their round-the-clock thermal comfort by employing sophisticated metrics that account for both heat and humidity across “green” and “gray” areas. These assessments will be carried out using ground-based and satellite datasets to compare vegetated and built areas for their thermal comfort. Further, various green infrastructure sites within Pittsburgh, PA will be physically monitored using in-situ sensors to quantitively determine their role in influencing thermal comfort.

The potential efficacy of cooling attained from green infrastructure projects will be estimated at numerous gray sites within Pittsburgh. This interdisciplinary pilot project will help investigators to demonstrate locally relevant evidence of urban greening vs. microclimate benefits to better inform and orient greening efforts to enhance urban climate resiliency in the humid U.S. Findings from the planned project activities will enhance competitiveness for external funding to pursue research in human health, urban energy needs, ecosystem services, environmental justice, and climate change. Deliverables will include technical and extension/outreach articles, demonstration sites (in Pittsburgh) for student and stakeholder education, and the development of real-time humid heat advisories and labor capacity tools for interested local stakeholder groups.


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