Developing vulnerability index to quantify urban heat islands effects coupled with air pollution: A case study of Camden, NJ

Academic Article


  • Extreme heat events at urban centers in combination with air pollution pose a serious risk to human health. Among these are financially distressed cities and neighborhoods that are facing enormous challenges without the scientific and technical capacity for planning and mitigation. The city of Camden is one of those economically distressed areas with a predominantly minority population, a high unemployment rate, high poverty rates, and poor air quality (PM2.5 and ozone), and it remains vulnerable to heat events. This paper focuses on studying a coupled effect of Urban Heat Islands (UHIs) and Ozone-PM2.5 pollution at the neighborhood-scale in the city of Camden, using fine scale remotely sensed land-surface temperature and air quality data from the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) Modelling System in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) platform. To assess the impact of urban microclimate on the city of Camden, NJ, residents' health, we identified several environmental and social parameters as the root causes of vulnerability imposed by extreme-heat and poor air quality. Vulnerability in terms of environment and social wellbeing was spatially quantified as two conceptual vulnerability-index models (i.e., environmental vulnerability index (EVI) and a social vulnerability index (SVI)) using multiple linear regression algorithm. Factors such as remotely sensed earth surface properties, built-environment components, air quality, and socio-economic data were incorporated in a holistic geographic approach to quantify the combined effect. Surface temperature gradient and Proportional Vegetation (Pv) generated from 30 m resolution Landsat 8 were sampled along with other variables in the city of Camden, NJ. Models incorporating Pv suggest better fit than models with normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Water fraction (33.5%,32.4%), percentage imperviousness (32.5%, 32%), Pv (20.5%, 19.6%), and digital elevation model (DEM) (9%, 8%) have the highest contributions in both models. Two output maps identified the vulnerable neighborhoods in the city through comprehensive GIS analysis: Lanning Square, Bergen Square, Central Waterfront, Gateway, Liberty Park, and Parkside. This can provide useful information for planners and health officials in targeting areas for future interventions and mitigations.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sabrin S; Karimi M; Nazari R
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 6