Urban Heat Islands of Richmond, VA: A Further Analysis

Authors: Kelly Saverino*, University of Richmond, Andre Eanes, University of Richmond, Todd Lookingbill, University of Richmond, Rong Bao, University of Richmond, Jerremy Hoffman, Science Museum of Virginia
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Urban heat islands, socioeconomic inequity, temperature, poverty, redlining
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban heat islands are often caused by certain human activity in the area, such as increased industrial development or decreased green space. Shandas et al. conducted a study of Richmond’s urban heat islands in 2017, an area in which this is a large issue. In addition to mapping the heat of the city, researchers also investigated if increased heat in certain areas was related to the presence of certain demographic factors. Data gathered from the U.S. Census was used to divide maps of Richmond by census blocks. Overlaying the census block map with data from the urban heat island studied showed what areas of the city are the hottest, have the most canopy cover, have the most impervious surfaces, and the highest poverty levels, all of which were found to be strong predictors of afternoon temperature. Redlining data was also studied within census blocks since it has been a historic problem in Richmond. The Church Hill area of the city provided an interesting case study due to its history of gradual gentrification. Differences in demographic factors, socioeconomic factors, and heat were compared in northern Church Hill and gentrified southern Church Hill. Both in Church Hill and in Richmond overall, our research focused on determining whether areas occupied by people of low socioeconomic status or minority groups were the ones that experienced the most heat and, in turn, the negative effects of such an environment, through the use of heat and census data.

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