Seminar - Heat, Health & Remote Sensing in the Lower Mainland by Anders Knudby

March 26, 2015
  • Date: March 26th, 2015
  • Time: 12:30 ~ 2:00 pm
  • Location: RCB 7110
  • Lecturer: Dr. Anders Knudby

Description: During a one-week extreme heat event in the summer of 2009, the hottest week ever recorded in the Lower Mainland, 110 people died from heat-related causes. Known heat health risk factors for Metro Vancouver include being 65-74 of age and living in an area with a high population density or a high poverty rate, but one obvious question remains unanswered: 'Are you at greater risk during an extreme heat event if you live in a hot part of town?' To answer this question we have mapped temperature distributions for the Lower Mainland as they typically occur during extreme heat events. The geocode for each recorded death then allows us to add local temperature as a potential risk factor, and compare its importance to other risk factors. While this analysis is not yet concluded, the potential implication is significant because the other risk factors (age, population density and poverty) represent difficult or impossible problems to solve, while reducing heat exposure can be done through smart urban design. The City of Vancouver is currently testing the effect of 1) increased urban tree cover, and 2) increased reef reflectivity. Future research will help determine the efficiency of these solutions.

Bio: Anders Knudby is Assistant Professor in Environmental Remote Sensing at Simon Fraser University, where one of his research foci is the relationship between summer temperatures, the built environment, demographics, and health outcomes. Supported by several students, recent research has included a) mapping the heat trapping effect of tall urban buildings using publicly available data, b) mapping the distribution of temperature for a typical hot summer day in the Greater Vancouver Area, and c) combining this with information on population sensitivity to heat to identify vulnerable neighbourhoods.