Quantification and Evaluation of Intra-Urban Heat-Stress Variability in Seoul, Korea

Int J Biometeorol. 2019 Jan;63(1):1-12. doi: 10.1007/s00484-018-1631-2. Epub 2018 Nov 20.


This study quantifies heat-stress hazard (air temperature), vulnerability (heat vulnerability index and age score), and risk (heat-related mortality) on the district scale in Seoul, Korea, for a comprehensive heat-stress impact assessment. Moreover, the heat-stress impact assessment is evaluated by checking the spatial consistency between heat-stress hazard, vulnerability, and risk, which was rarely done before. We applied numerical and geo-empirical models to simulate the spatial pattern of heat-stress hazard. For heat-stress vulnerability, we used demographic and socioeconomic factors. Heat-related mortality was estimated based on an event-based heat-stress risk analysis. Results are that heat-stress hazard, vulnerability, and risk are spatially variable in Seoul. The highest heat-stress hazard was detected in the districts Mapo, Yeongdeungpo, and Yangcheon, the highest vulnerability in Jongno and the highest risk in Jongno and Yangcheon. The different components (heat-stress hazard, vulnerability, and risk) and variables (heat vulnerability index and percentage of seniors) showed different spatial patterns. Knowledge about the causes of higher heat-stress risk, either the hazard or vulnerability, is helpful to design tailored adaptation measures that focus on the reduction of thermal loads or on the preparation of the vulnerable population. The evaluation showed that heat-stress vulnerability and hazard explain the spatial pattern of risk only partly. This highlights the need to evaluate heat-stress impact assessment systems to produce reliable urban heat-stress maps.

Keywords: Evaluation; Heat-related mortality; Heat-stress impact assessment; Heat-stress vulnerability; Maps; Urban heat island.

MeSH terms

  • Heat Stress Disorders / mortality*
  • Heat-Shock Response*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Risk
  • Seoul / epidemiology
  • Vulnerable Populations