01/30/2015 03:32 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT

Anders Knudby, SFU researcher, mapping Vancouver hot spots

A researcher is mapping hot spots in Metro Vancouver to help prevent deaths caused by heat waves.

The study, led by assistant professor Anders Knudby from SFU's geography department, arose from health concerns after a heat wave that hit the Lower Mainland in 2009.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control discovered the 2009 heat wave killed more than 100 people, which was discovered by comparing the average number of deaths to the number of deaths during the heat wave.

"Most people who do die from heat aren't specifically recorded as such," said Knudby.

Knudby wanted to know if people were more likely to die if they were in a hot part of town. To do that, he had to find and map Metro Vancouver's hot spots.

Here are some of the hot spots Knudby revealed in his research:

- Central Vancouver

- Most of Surrey

- South Burnaby

- Abbotsford

- Langley

Generally, urban areas tend to be warmer than rural areas. Cooler areas include those that are close to water, at higher elevation, or have a lot of vegetation.

"If we find there is a significant risk, then you can do things to try to cool down the hot neighbourhoods," said Knudby.

Here are some of the tactics cities can deploy to cool down hot neighbourhoods:

- plant street trees

- build green roofs

- increase the amount of open water

- painting roofs white to reflect light back

Part of Knudby's research is also looking at tall buildings, which help cool temperatures by creating shade during the day, but keep warm temperatures from escaping at night.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Mapping Vancouver's hot spots