Date of Award

Spring 6-9-2024

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)



First Advisor

Jonathan Chipman

Second Advisor

Justin Mankin

Third Advisor

Jonathan Winter


Since 2020, annual average temperatures for Boston, Massachusetts, have ranked within the top 10 hottest years, with 2021 becoming Boston’s hottest year on record (Northeast Regional Climate Center, 2023). Heat is more extreme in urban areas because of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, a temperature difference between urban and suburban areas. This effect is visible between neighborhoods within urban areas, as more densely built regions are often multiple °C hotter than greener areas (Marando et al., 2021). Neighborhoods affected by discriminatory housing policies are often correlated with higher temperatures, which can disproportionately expose certain groups to heat-related hazards. This thesis used Landsat 8 to measure the radiative temperature difference at the land’s surface, and compared neighborhood average temperatures with historical maps of redlining and measurements of race and levels of diversity to identify who is most affected by extreme heat in Boston, MA. We found a range of temperatures between each redlining designation, with neighborhoods classified as ‘undesirable’ ranging around 4-6 °C higher than ‘desirable’ neighborhoods. The race and temperature analysis indicated that higher percentages of Black and Hispanic people generally live in areas with higher mean temperatures, indicating Black and Hispanic people are more exposed to extreme heat. As mitigating and adapting to extreme heat becomes a priority in urban environments, policies must recognize the unequal distribution of extreme heat and ensure that past discriminatory housing policies do not continue to harm residents.

Included in

Geography Commons