A conceptual framework for environmental risk and social vulnerability assessment in complex urban settings

Maryam Karimi, Rouzbeh Nazari, Daria Dutova, Reza Khanbilvardi, Masoud Ghandehari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High numbers of weather-related mortalities are associated with extreme heat events in the United States. Satellite data confirms that urbanization leads to higher temperatures within microclimates and formation of heat pockets that are linked to higher risks of heat related illnesses and heat stroke. The goal of this study was to examine the influence of different surface types on the impact of UHI by looking at physical properties of the urban system through a framework to formulate risk and social vulnerabilities. A conceptual model was developed using data from Landsat, department of building, U.S. census and USGS. The factors of interest include people, environment, and building/infrastructure. This model quantifies risk as a function of temperature and physical properties of the surrounding environment. Results show, neighborhoods of Manhattan, Queens and Bronx are at the highest risk of social and environmental vulnerability and should be targeted for policy changes, implementation of green infrastructures and vegetation coverage to counteract the heating effects. Neighborhoods which need to be targeted for urban planning due to high environmental risk are Harlem, Upper Manhattan, East Harlem, Elmhurst, Jamaica, Ridgewood, Flatbush, University height and Woodlawn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Climate
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Environmental risk
  • Human health risk assessment
  • New York City
  • Social vulnerability
  • Urban Heat Island conceptual model
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Atmospheric Science


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