GSD students study urban heat island effect in Bronx

GSD students Naz Beykan (MDesS ’13) and Jainxaing Huang (DDesS ’13) had fun with field research that will make a serious contribution to understanding the cooling effects of green space on the urban landscape. The students set up sensors to log the urban heat island effect in St. James and Echo parks in the Bronx, collaborating with volunteers from the NYC/Bronx Storm Water Infrastructure Matters Coalition.
As vegetation is removed to develop urban areas, the hard surfaces of streets and buildings raise temperatures above those of rural and suburban areas.  This increases heat-related health risks for urban populations: the heat island effect. Understanding the relative value of mitigation strategies is crucial to designing livable and healthy neighborhoods and cities.
Naz Beykan showing research to child in St. JamesJoyce Klein Rosenthal, assistant professor in urban planning, initiated the field research project, which was funded by a RWJF Seed Grant through the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. She reported, “The support from the neighborhoods was fantastic, even though these predominantly Latino and low-income neighborhoods typically do not see researchers with meteorological equipment on the sidewalk!” Now the team is analyzing the data from the parks to contribute to a dataset useful for modeling the urban environment.