Vulnerability to Extreme Heat in Metropolitan Phoenix: Spatial, Temporal, and Demographic Dimensions

Winston T L Chow, Wen Ching Chuang, Patricia Gober

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


This study assessed the spatial distribution of vulnerability to extreme heat in 1990 and 2000 within metropolitan Phoenix based on an index of seven equally weighted measures of physical exposure and adaptive capacity. These measures were derived from spatially interpolated climate, normalized differential vegetation index, and U.S. Census data. From resulting vulnerability maps, we also analyzed population groups living in areas of high heat vulnerability. Results revealed that landscapes of heat vulnerability changed substantially in response to variations in physical and socioeconomic factors, with significant alterations to spatial distribution of vulnerability especially between eastern and western sectors of Phoenix. These changes worked to the detriment of Phoenix's Hispanic population and the elderly concentrated in urban-fringe retirement communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-302
Number of pages17
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012


  • adaptive capacity
  • physical exposure
  • urban heat island
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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