The Intersection of Urban Heat Islands and the CDC Social Vulnerability Index in Two Border Cities

Ileana Morales, University of Texas at El Paso


With rising temperatures, susceptibility to heat effects has caused concern about thermal comfort and health risk, particularly in urban settings during the summer. Urban landscapes can intensify heat in surrounding areas due to structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructures that absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat, as well as reduced greenery (EPA, 2022), causing what are called Urban Heat Islands (UHIs). Prior work has indicated that UHIs can cause adverse health outcomes that can be exacerbated depending on geographic location, race-ethnicity, housing characteristics, and socioeconomic disparities. Historically, research has concluded that redlining techniques have disproportionately placed people of color in hazardous environments, and more recent research has identified that historically redlined neighborhoods continue to have elevated land surface temperatures (Hoffman et al., 2020). Further literature has indicated that thermal inequities are still prevalent in the U.S, particularly in poor urban areas. Most research on UHIs analyzes the intersection of UHI landscapes and vulnerable populations. The NIHHIS/NOAA UHI Mapping Campaign conducted throughout the U.S has supported more than 70 communities to identify the disproportionate heat effect. Much of this data is in the early stages of being incorporated into studies. Researching cities involved in the NIHHIS/NOAA UHI mapping campaign combined with social-spatial data can help increase our understanding of thermal inequities.

Subject Area

Environmental Justice|Environmental science|Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Morales, Ileana, "The Intersection of Urban Heat Islands and the CDC Social Vulnerability Index in Two Border Cities" (2023). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30494079.