Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Professor Slobodan Simonovic and Professor Robert Lannigan



Rapid population growth along with an increase in the frequency and intensity of climate change-related impacts in costal urban environments emphasize the need for the development of new tools to help disaster planners and policy makers select and prioritize mitigation and adaptation measures. Using the concept of the resilience of a community, which is a measure of how rapidly the community can recover to its previous level of functionality following a disruptive event is still a relatively new concept for many engineers, planners and policy makers, but is becoming recognized as an increasingly important and some would argue, essential component for the development and subsequent assessment of adaptation plans being considered for communities at risk of climate change-related events. The holistic approach which is the cornerstone of resilience is designed to integrate physical, economic, health, social and organizational impacts of climate change in urban environments. This research presents a methodology for the development of a quantitative spatial and temporal composite measure for assessing climate change-related health impacts in urban environments.


The proposed method is capable of considering spatial and temporal data from multiple inputs, relating to both physical and social parameters. This approach uses inputs such as the total population density and densities of various demographics, burden of diseases conditions, flood inundation mapping, and land use change for both historical and current conditions. The research has demonstrated that the methodology presented generates sufficiently accurate information to be useful for planning adaptive strategies. To assemble all inputs into a single measure of health impacts, a weighting system was assigned to apply various priorities to the spatio-temporal data sources. Weights may be varied to assess how they impact the final results. Finally, using spatio-temporal extrapolation methods the future behavior of the same key spatial variables can be projected.

Although this method was developed for application to any coastal mega-city, this thesis demonstrates the results obtained for Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The data was collected for the years 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011, as information was readily available for these years. Fine resolution spatial data for these years was used in order to give a dynamic simulation of possible health impacts for future projections. Linear and auto-regressive spatio-temporal extrapolations were used for projecting a 2050’s Metro Vancouver health impact map (HIM).


Results of this work show that the approach provides a more fully integrated view of the resilience of the city which incorporates aspects of population health. The approach would be useful in the development of more targeted adaptation and risk reduction strategies at a local level. In addition, this methodology can be used to generate inputs for further resilience simulations. The overall value of this approach is that it allows for a more integrated assessment of the city vulnerability and could lead to more effective adaptive strategies.