Impact-mapping of extreme weather events

Professor Katherine Gough - Social, Political and Geographical Sciences
Changing Environments and Infrastructure

Katherine Gough is leading a British Academy project, Vulnerability to Extreme Weather Events in Cities, investigating the impacts of extreme heat and flooding on low-income urban communities and service provision in Ghana.

The temperatures residents experience in their homes and workplaces were recorded in eight neighbourhoods in Accra and Tamale, supplemented by interviews with people living and working in these spaces, and health, water and electricity providers.

Some shocking findings have been made.

Some indoor temperatures are 10°C higher than official recorded figures: up to 38°C in health facilities, 45°C in rooms where people sleep, and over 50°C in workplaces. Disruptions to infrastructure caused by extreme heat result in power failures, affecting cooling systems, health services and water supplies.

Model simulations and interviews revealed regular flood depths of about two metres, which cut power and drinking water supplies, and disrupt health services. Homes and property are damaged or lost, and already precarious income generation is curtailed. The impacts of flooding are felt long after the extreme weather event itself.

The next step is to devise low-cost ways to improve the climate resilience of services, homes and workplaces, and hence the incomes and wellbeing of the affected populations.