Exploring Disparities and Solutions to U.S. Urban Heat Stress and Climate Justice


DDL was awarded a $1.5 million NASA grant to use satellite remote sensing data, community-collected temperature data, demographic census data and machine learning to evaluate heat stress from environmental and climate injustices across the U.S and how these disparities have changed over time. In addition to modeling disparities, the grant will allow us to help cities reduce climate injustices by modeling the projected future impacts of implementing heat mitigation measures, such as planting trees or installing cooling pavement.

We will evaluate high-resolution heat stress disparities in four US cities: Phoenix, AZ, Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL and the Raleigh-Durham metro area in NC. By evaluating fewer cities at a higher resolution than is possible by leveraging land-surface temperature alone, we can better understand urban heat stress and its intersections with health impacts and mitigation measures.

Recognizing the importance of stakeholder collaboration, we are working with Durham’s Museum of Life and Science and a community advisory board, largely comprised of representatives from historically underprivileged communities, to kickstart our Raleigh-Durham evaluation. The advisory board will work with DDL in shaping our research questions and ensuring that city-level officials understand and use the research outcomes in order for our research to beget concrete policy changes.

Once this methodology is developed for North Carolina’s Triangle area, our team of researchers will apply it to the three other cities.

Funders: NASA

DDL contacts: Angel Hsu, PhD; Sarah Berk, PhD