Assessing Heat Health Risk for Sustainability in Beijing’s Urban Heat Island


Abstract: This research is motivated by the increasing threat of urban heat waves that are likely worsened by pervasive global warming and urbanization. Different regions of the city including urban, borderland and rural area will experience different levels of heat health risk. In this paper, we propose an improved approach to quantitatively assess Beijing’s heat health risk based on three factors from hazard, vulnerability and especially environment which is considered as an independent factor because different land use/cover types have different influence on ambient air temperatures under the Urban Heat Island effect. The results show that the heat health risk of Beijing demonstrates a spatial-temporal pattern with higher risk in the urban area, lower risk in the borderland between urban and rural area, and lowest risk in the rural area, and the total risk fluctuated dramatically during 2008–2011. To be more specific, the heat health risk was clearly higher in 2009 and 2010 than in 2008 and 2011. Further analysis with the urban area at sub-district level signifies that the impervious surface (urban area such as buildings, roads, et al.) ratio is of high correlation with the heat health risk. The validation results show that the proposed method improved the accuracy of heat health risk assessment. We recommend that policy makers should develop efficient urban planning to accomplish Beijing’s sustainable development.

Cite this paper: Dong, W., Liu, Z., Zhang, L., Tang, Q., Liao, H., & Li, X. E. (2014). Assessing heat health risk for sustainability in Beijing’s urban heat island. Sustainability, 6(10), 7334-7357. DOI:


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