Skip to main content
Research Highlight

Spatial Patterning of Sociodemographic Disparities in Extreme Heat Exposure


The objective of this study is to explore and analyze the spatial patterning of sociodemographic disparities in extreme heat exposure across multiple scales within the Conterminous United States (CONUS). Specifically, the study aims to assess differences in heat exposure across various sociodemographic factors such as race, housing characteristics, and poverty level, at national, regional, and local levels.


The research utilizes high-resolution gridded daily air temperature-based heat wave intensity (HWI) data and neighborhood-scale sociodemographic information from the CONUS. Statistical models are employed to evaluate the association between HWI and sociodemographic variables at different spatial scales. The analysis spans from national to regional and local levels, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of heat exposure disparities.

Spatial Patterning of Sociodemographic Disparities in Extreme Heat Exposure
Predicted values of heat wave intensity for one standard deviation change in poverty levels, and race at the regional level.


The findings highlight significant disparities in heat exposure across different sociodemographic groups. While small differences in HWI are observed at the national level, the study reveals varying magnitudes and directions of disparities at regional and local levels. Particularly stark differences are noted in the Northeast and Midwest, where primarily Black neighborhoods experience higher HWI compared to predominantly White areas. At the local level, poverty is a more influential factor than race in determining heat exposure disparities. Additionally, residents of nontraditional housing are found to be more vulnerable to heat exposure. The study underscores the unequal distribution of heat wave intensities across communities, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions to mitigate heat-related health risks, especially among disadvantaged populations. This research lays the groundwork for future studies to address and mitigate disparities in heat exposure as climate change continues to exacerbate extreme heat events.


Rastogi, D., Christian, J., Tuccillo, J., Christian, B., Kapadia, A. J., & Hanson, H. A. (2023). Exploring the spatial patterning of sociodemographic disparities in extreme heat exposure at multiple scales across the conterminous United States. GeoHealth7(10), e2023GH000864.

Funding and Facility:

This work is sponsored by: (a) the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UL1-TR001409, KL2-TR001432, and TL1-TR001431 and (b) the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Support for analysis is provided by the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.