Implications of urban design strategies for urban heat islands : an investigation of the UHI effect in downtown Austin, Texas
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Given growing concerns about Urban Heat Islands (UHI), this master’s thesis aims to document the principal factors contributing to the formation of UHIs and assess how urban design parameters can be modified to prevent or mitigate UHIs. Drawing on literature from three different areas of research (UHI causes and impacts, UHI measurement and simulation tools and techniques, and urban design strategies’ influence on urban climate), the author conducted a case study of Downtown Austin, Texas, which has been rapidly growing and densifying during the past decade. To characterize the impact of the future development proposed for the downtown area in the Downtown Austin Plan (DAP), the UHI measurement tool Urban Weather Generator (UWG) was used to simulate the UHI over Downtown in 2020 and 2039 (at the end of the implementation of Downtown Austin Plan). Finally, this study proposes an urban design solution to mitigate Austin’s intensifying UHI.
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