Southwest Urban Corridor Integrated Field Laboratory


David Sailor1 (, Jean Andino1*, Wendy Barnard1, Matei Georgescu1, Kevin Gurney2, Ladd Keith3, Katia Lamer4, Joshua New5, Patricia Solis1, Mukul Tewari6, Enrique Vivoni1


1Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; 2Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ; 3University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; 4Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY; 5Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN; 6IBM Research, Yorktown Heights, NY



Arizona contains one of the fastest growing urban corridors in the U.S., including major cities of Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. With many of the region’s urban areas routinely experiencing 30+ days of temperatures above 110 °F (43 °C) each summer, the population is stressed by the complex interactions of extreme heat, atmospheric pollutants, and limited water.

The Southwest Urban Corridor Integrated Field Laboratory (SW-IFL) will engage stakeholders and provide scientists and decision makers with high-quality, relevant knowledge capable of spurring and guiding responses to environmental concerns. The SW-IFL is a partnership involving the three public universities in Arizona, two national laboratories, and industry. The stakeholder network includes city governments, county-level agencies, community groups, and local nonprofits throughout the region.

The SW-IFL will specifically advance urban systems science by: (1) improving the understanding of how the built environment affects local to regional climates, emissions, and air chemistry; (2) establishing empirically grounded theory of how governance, actors, plans, and policies shape resilience to heat; (3) building a framework and simulation capability to facilitate equitable mitigation of extreme heat and its societal impacts; and (4) engaging government and community stakeholders in an advising and co-discovery role to drive the research process toward decision-relevant knowledge.

SW-IFL activities will include observations that leverage existing networks of weather, air quality, and hydrological measurements with new measurements of land-atmosphere exchange processes, atmospheric composition, and emissions. Intensive observational periods (IOPs) throughout the summer months will use mobile observatories to measure boundary-layer processes, and focused neighborhood-scale heavily instrumented testbed experiments to elucidate drivers of microclimate variations and to evaluate the efficacy of proposed solutions. Testbed experiments will leverage data from the IOPs and include additional short- and long-term measurements that will engage researchers from across the university network and citizen scientists from the stakeholder organizations and communities.

Next generation predictive modeling capabilities for urban regions will be developed by improving representations of fine-scale physical processes, while coupling existing state-of-the- art models that integrate human behavior and atmospheric phenomena ranging from neighborhood to regional and global scales.

The expected outcomes include integration of high-resolution observations (atmospheric, land surface, and infrastructure), diagnostic and predictive models, and civic engagement to provide new knowledge and deliver next-generation predictive tools that are regionally specific but also translatable to other arid regions. Ultimately, these tools will empower the public to respond to extreme heat, while informing development and deployment of policies and solutions that are effective, equitable and generalizable.