Evaluating the Use of Urban Heat Island and Heat Increase Modeling in Land Use and Planning Decision-Making

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The impacts of the urban heat island (UHI) and extreme heat events are well documented, including increases in heat-related public health issues, stresses on urban ecology, and energy usage to mitigate the higher temperatures. Increases in urban heat is of particular concern to cities in the Southwest, since it counteracts the cooling that otherwise normally occurs at night. While UHI mapping and modeling has become more sophisticated in recent years, there is still an information gap between the heat maps and models, urban planning and design strategies to decrease heat, and the use of that information in policy decision making. This study documented the current use of urban heat maps and models in communities in Arizona and New Mexico and evaluated best practices and opportunities to increase their usability.