Urban Heat Islands and Social Work: Opportunities for Intervention


  • Billy Hamilton Augsburg College
  • Christina L. Erickson Augsburg College




Urban heat island, environmental justice, heat stress, climate change


The urban heat island (UHI), formed by surface modification of soil and vegetation, increases minimum nighttime temperatures within cities and causes heat-stress among dwellers. Children, elders and low-income persons are disproportionately burdened by the UHI. These populations often lack the necessary biological, economic and social resources to cope with or prevent heat stress. Because UHI’s are expected to increase with climate change, more social workers will be expected to serve the populations most affected by UHI. This paper addresses how the social work profession can play a role in efforts to address the effects of UHI’s on vulnerable populations.

Author Biographies

Billy Hamilton, Augsburg College

BSW Law Student William Mitchell College of Law St. Paul, MN

Christina L. Erickson, Augsburg College

PhD, LISW Associate Professor Augsburg College Department of Social Work