Portland experiences both extreme heat in the summer months and frequent nuisance flooding in the winter and spring, and that’s only expected to worsen with climate change. A new Portland State University study found the potential for flooding and extreme heat is most acute in East Portland’s low-income neighborhoods that have fewer green spaces and larger concentrations of less-educated residents.

The PSU research team — geography graduate students Benjamin Fahy and Emma Brenneman, geography professor Heejun Chang and urban studies and planning professor Vivek Shandas — mapped winter flood and summer heat hazard potential, then tested it against sociodemographic and physical variables at a neighborhood scale, including income, level of education, population density, green space and the amount of impervious surface area. This study focused on nuisance flooding, the kind of flooding that shuts down roads, overwhelms storm drains and seeps into basements.

Their findings were published in the journal International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.

“Not surprisingly, those poorer, low-lying areas on the eastside along Highway 205 are disproportionately exposed to floods and urban heat islands,” said Heejun Chang, a geography professor in PSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the WISE research group or Water as an Integrated System and Environment. “Those are the potential target areas where the city needs to pay attention to.”

Read more at Portland State University