Heat hazard data: Tackling impacts of temperature rise
22nd July 2021
Rising heat hazards are a direct consequence of wider climatic change. Countries across the globe are at greater risk of heatwave events, urban heat islands, and other critical heat-related hazards due to the earth’s increasing variation in temperature.
These phenomena have tangible impacts for businesses, populations, and nature that need to be addressed. From the incidental health impacts of heatwaves to the long-lasting consequences of degraded air quality, these issues are ones that span both commercial and government sectors.
To make matters worse, man-made activity and urbanisation are exacerbating the effects of rising temperatures. Urban heat islands form due to land cover and population density. This creates areas of heightened heat risk within cities which many regions that haven’t historically experienced high temperatures aren’t equipped to tackle.
Understanding these impacts and how heat may change over time is crucial for populations to thrive and become more climate resilient. Organisations and nations need to utilise heat data and intelligence to make more resilient decisions that protect people’s health and improve the sustainability of our actions. A wide range of sectors will be greatly impacted by changes in global temperatures and many more will need to adapt to the novel challenges presented by heatwave events.
Heat Hazard Data
4EI provides satellite data to inform decision-makers about the impacts of these trends. Our heat hazard products map heat distribution in urban areas, allowing users to identify areas of high risk and subsequently determine causation or associated patterns. This information is useful for a range of sectors – empowering engineers, city planners, business owners, and more to make sustainable decisions that mitigate the impacts of heat hazards.
In the context of global challenges, we deliver actionable insight in an understandable manner, attuned to your specific sector challenges. 4EI’s Heat Index represents risk in a scale of 1-5 which succinctly communicates the severity of the threat in different areas and helps users to target their mitigation activity.
Use cases for heat hazard data
Policy and legislation
As sustainability becomes a global concern, national and international policies are adopting heat-related goals that governments must meet. Heat hazard data allows these bodies to measure, monitor, and evidence their activity towards meeting these goals. Without this intelligence, organisations cannot prove their compliance with governmental and commercial regulation.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals outline 17 top-level goals for all member states to achieve, 7 of which have direct connections to tackling temperature rise and the corresponding threats.
- Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
- Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris in 2015 and came into effect on 4 November 2016. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
Government: Humanitarian, health and social action
Heat hazard permeates many aspects of people’s lives. It has significant health impacts, from heat stroke to respiratory issues, as well as economic and social effects. Heat hazard data can therefore play a prominent role in shaping national policies, providing evidence to support adaption and resilience against rising temperatures.
Related: Why heatwaves and urban heat islands are a rising threat
For example, 4EI collaborated with Climate Ready Clyde in a recent project in Glasgow to assess the heat risk posed to deprived and densely populated communities and determine opportunities to mitigate risk level, namely through implementing green space.
This information was additionally integrated into Glasgow City Region’s Climate Adaption Strategy and Action Plan aiming to build climate resilience. Similar data from 4EI could be implemented in countries around the world to inform climate strategies.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015–30) was adopted by 187 United Nations member states in March 2015. The agreement sets out objectives to reduce disaster risk and minimise health and economic impacts. The four priorities for action are: understanding disaster risk; strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk; investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience; enhancing disaster preparedness and ‘Building Back Better’ in recovery.
This is a relevant example of where 4EI’s heat data could be used to understand heat risk, inform the creation of disaster strategies, and enable progress tracking once mitigation and resilience-building tactics are employed.
Regional or targeted heat hazard data, such as is provided by 4EI’s Heat Hazard Postcode Data for the UK, can be useful for local emergency response or healthcare planning. Understanding areas of high-risk and the location of particularly vulnerable communities could support these groups to prepare resources during heatwave events and within known urban heat islands.
Urban and city planning
Government, local councils, engineering consultants, and construction companies can benefit from the insights heat hazard data provides. It can inform two key areas; mitigating heat effects and phenomena like urban heat islands, and evidencing compliance.
Heat hazard data can help identify where to implement cooling tactics, such as developing green spaces and planting trees, based on risk levels. It can also support the creation of more sustainable urban planning and construction designs. It points to which areas require heat pumps, or less insulation, or a seasonal system that can adapt to changing heat levels.
Equally, engineering firms and local government organisations can use heat hazard data to evidence compliance with urban development legislation.
Risk analysis and insurance
Businesses and property owners are required to meet health, safety and risk compliance to protect people’s health. Understanding where heat hazards lie in urban areas can help them assess what potential risks face their employees or building occupants.
There is also scope for heat hazard data to be integrated into insurance assessments and products. This data could help determine to what extent an area is at risk for heat-related health conditions, fire risks, or other safety issues and inform insurance policies.
Read more about our heat hazard products here, or get in touch to find out how we can help you build resilience against rising temperatures.