Heatwaves cause excess mortality and physiological impacts on humans throughout the world, and climate change will intensify and increase the frequency of heat events. Many adaptation and mitigation studies use spatial distribution of highly vulnerable local populations to inform heat reduction and response plans. However, most available heat vulnerability studies focus on urban areas with high heat intensification by Urban Heat Islands (UHIs). Rural areas encompass different environmental and socioeconomic issues that require alternate analyses of vulnerability. We categorized Nebraska census tracts into four urbanization levels, then conducted factor analyses on each group and captured different patterns of socioeconomic vulnerabilities among resultant Heat Vulnerability Indices (HVIs). While disability is the major component of HVI in two urbanized classes, lower education, and races other than white have higher contributions in HVI for the two rural classes. To account for environmental vulnerability of HVI, we considered different land type combinations for each urban class based on their percentage areas and their differences in heat intensifications. Our results demonstrate different combinations of initial variables in heat vulnerability among urban classes of Nebraska and clustering of high and low heat vulnerable areas within the highest urbanized sections. Less urbanized areas show no spatial clustering of HVI. More studies with separation on urbanization level of residence can give insights into different socioeconomic vulnerability patterns in rural and urban areas, while also identifying changes in environmental variables that better capture heat intensification in rural settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GH000478
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Nebraska
  • environmental health
  • factor analysis
  • heat vulnerability index
  • heatwave
  • rural heatwave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Epidemiology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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