All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Rouzbeh Nazari

Advisory Committee Members

Mohammad Al-Hamdan

Maryam E Karimi

Jason T Kirby

Lisa McCormick

Wesley C Zech

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering


Globally, most cities experience Urban Heat Islands (UHIs) phenomena which increase the heat accumulation rate within city areas compared to the suburban and rural areas. In addition, poor air quality results in a higher prevalence of heat-related mortalities-morbidities and acute respiratory diseases. Vulnerability to UHIs impacts and air pollution varying in neighborhood scale is a function of factors including temperature pattern, the concentration of major air pollutants, land surface characteristics, socioeconomic factors, vulnerable age groups, and people's susceptibility to heat and pollution. Therefore, identifying vulnerability becomes crucial to adapt to changing climate and plan for mitigation strategies. Chapter one proposes a holistic approach to quantifying vulnerability to air pollution associated with UHI via three index models (i.e. environmental risk impact index (ERII), a social vulnerability index (SVI), and a health impact index (HII)) for the city of Camden, New Jersey by performing multiple linear regression. Remote sensing data from Landsat 8 has been used to create surface temperature gradient and Proportional Vegetation (Pv) and sampled with other social and health variables. These indices identify the most exposed areas to heat and air pollution. Chapter two improved the vulnerability model by measuring a heat-exposure risk with a Spatial Autoregression (SAR) model, which accounts for the environmental variables' both local and global impact. The heat-exposure risk was later combined with a cumulative social vulnerability quantified via principal component analysis (PCA) to iv derive the heat-risk index for the eight growing Alabama cities. Moreover, chapter three studied the microclimatic effects of UHIs in Philadelphia, which fluctuate with different configurations of the built environment. The chapter assessed the cooling benefits of street trees as Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) considering the urban morphology elements: land-use types, building form, Street width, and existing/added vegetation. Summertime thermal comfort level in three land-use patterns (residential, commercial, mixed-use) has been evaluated in terms of human biometeorological parameters such as Mean-radiant temperature (Tmrt) and Physically Equivalent Temperature (PET). Chapter four explored the cooling potential of different vegetation cover scenarios such as existing vegetation in various canopy widths and a few native shade-tree species (Green Ash, American Hornbeam, Bold Cypress, Tulip Poplar) in their mature sizes, and a built environment including only grass cover. Thermal comfort indices were simulated using a CFD-based microclimate model (ENVI-met) to evaluate their temporal and spatial pattern in a heat-stressed mixed-residential-industrial area in North Birmingham, Alabama. Overall, this research aims to assess neighborhood-level thermal conditions to protect the susceptible communities and their health.

Included in

Engineering Commons



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