In this research, I trace the historical and geographical development of the heatscape, a landscape of uneven exposure to extreme heat in Phoenix, Arizona. This case study is focused in understanding how urban, agricultural, and industrial development create and sustain extreme heat conditions in metro Phoenix.
I show how various processes of land use land cover change brought on through urban infrastructure and industrial development, combined with discriminatory practices such as race-based residential segregation shaped a landscape of extreme heat exposure that is specially pronounced in the metro Phoenix urban core, where marginalized, low-income populations are most exposed. I argue that not only is the urban core hotter than the surrounding expanding suburbs in the east, west, and north areas of the Salt River Valley, but also that historically, the central Phoenix communities have had less resources to cope with extreme heat.
I use historical and archival data and longitudinal climatological records, to show that urban, suburban and industrial development in the Phoenix metropolitan region actively creates and recreates inequitable geographies of extreme heat exposure for low-income and minority groups in the urban core, while simultaneously affording suburban populations protection from the deleterious human health and environmental effects of extreme heat.
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