Planning for extreme heat: A review

Check out my new open access literature review paper with Sara Meerow and Tess Wagner, where we present the current state of planning for extreme heat, find many papers focused on mapping and modeling heat but far less on urban planning and governance, and discuss challenges and opportunities in research and practice!


Extreme heat is a growing concern for cities, with both climate change and the urban heat island (UHI) effect increasingly impacting public health, economies, urban infrastructure, and urban ecology. To better understand the current state of planning for extreme heat, we conducted a systematic literature review. We found that most of the research focuses on UHI mapping and modeling, while few studies delve into extreme heat planning and governance processes. An in-depth review of this literature reveals common institutional, policy, and informational barriers and strategies for overcoming them. Identified challenges include siloed heat governance and research that limit cross-governmental and interdisciplinary collaboration; complex, context-specific, and diverse heat resilience strategies; the need to combine extreme heat “risk management” strategies (focused on preparing and responding to extreme heat events) and “design of the built environment” strategies (spatial planning and design interventions that intentionally reduce urban temperatures); and the need for extensive, multidisciplinary data and tools that are often not readily available. These challenges point to several avenues for future heat planning research. Ultimately, we argue that planners have an important role to play in building heat resilience and conclude by identifying areas where scholars and practitioners can work together to advance our understanding of extreme heat planning.


Keith, Ladd, Sara Meerow, and Tess Wagner. 2020. Planning for extreme heat: A review. Journal of Extreme Events. 6(3&4), 2050003.


Masterclass: Innovations in heat planning research and practice

As part of the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN)‘s virtual forum this summer, I organized a masterclass on urban planning and governance for heat-health for June 16, 2020. With Roop Singh moderating, myself, Sara Meerow, Dave Hondula, and Ryan Winkle presented on the current state and innovations in urban planning, design and governance for extreme heat with examples from our research and community projects.

The first two lectures by myself and Sara Meerow, PhD, include:

Innovations in Heat Planning Research and Planning – Part A, presented by Ladd Keith, PhD
Innovations in Heat Planning Research and Planning – Part B, presented by Sara Meerow, PhD

The full masterclass recordings, resources mentioned during the presentations, and Q&A on the GHHIN website.


Planning for Extreme Heat Survey

My colleague Sara Meerow, PhD, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, and I are studying how urban planners address extreme heat. Our goal is to survey planning professionals from a wide range of U.S. communities to better understand how extreme heat risk perceptions, current planning activities, and barriers to action vary across the country. This information will be useful for practitioners and researchers in the effort to create more extreme heat resilient communities.

Photograph by Gregor Orbino

This survey should only take about 10 minutes and participants will be eligible to win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards upon completing it. Please take it, share it with your urban planning colleagues, and let me know if there is a network you are a part of that we can share the survey with!

Update: Survey closed.