Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Jorge E. Gonzalez


Urban, Weather, forecasting, WRF, UHI, Mechanical


Extreme heat events are becoming more frequent and intense in most large cities. Built-up surfaces also limit cooling mechanisms, leading to warmer conditions in cities, a phenomenon called the Urban Heat Island (UHI). This presents major challenges to reduce adverse health effects of hot weather, particularly in vulnerable populations like the elderly and low-income communities. Here we explore the overall impacts of increasing air conditioning (AC) system adoption in residences as an adaptive measure to reduce human health risks under heat waves, with New York City (NYC) as a case study. This study uses AC adoption data from the 2017 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey to study impacts to health, energy demand, and UHI. Across NYC, this AC adoption spans from 75.8% to 98.4% of homes. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, coupled with a multi-layer building environment parameterization and building energy model (BEP – BEM) is used to perform this analysis. The BEP – BEM schemes are improved and used as a tool to analyze current and full AC adoption scenarios. AC household fraction data are ingested into WRF to describe the spatial distribution of AC use across NYC. A city-scale case study is performed over the summer months of June – August 2018, which includes three different extreme heat events. Model results are validated with surface weather stations for the entire summer, showing good agreement. The impact of increasing AC systems to 100% usage across NYC results in a peak energy demand increase of 20%, while the UHI is slightly increase on average by 0.42 ⁰C. Results highlight potential tradeoffs in extreme heat adaptation strategies for cities, which may be necessary in the context of increasing extreme heat events.



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