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NOAA’s community-led heat mapping program will be collecting data in 14 new metro areas this summer.
Fourteen new cities and counties will be participating in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s community-led heat mapping campaign this summer.
To combat extreme heat, the nation’s deadliest weather event, the NOAA Climate Program Office, the National Integrated Heat Health Information System and other partners have conducted weather mapping campaigns in 35 communities over the last five years. The 2022 campaign adds large metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, San Francisco, Brooklyn, New York, and others to the mix.
Local volunteers record outdoor temperatures at a designated time in the morning, afternoon and evening on a specific day, which is usually one of the hottest of the year.
Dubbed “community scientists,” the volunteers collect data to map urban heat islands, or areas that can be up to 20 degrees hotter than nearby neighborhoods. They are equipped with heat sensors developed by data analytics company CAPA strategies, which they can mount on their cars and bicycles or carry in their pockets.
CAPA’s sensors record outside temperature, humidity, time and the volunteers’ location every second. Once the community’s data is collected, it is saved onto an SD card which is then sent to CAPA. The company then produces interactive, high-resolution maps using a machine learning process that combines satellite imagery from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel II satellite and air temperature and humidity data collected by the volunteers.
This summer, NOAA will fund the use of new instruments to better characterize the related impacts of heat and air quality in cities. Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio, plan to use mobile air quality monitors, and Clark County, Nevada, and Columbia, South Carolina, will use stationary temperature and humidity sensors to monitor the urban heat island effect throughout the summer.
Nearly 800 volunteers recorded 1.2 million measurements in 24 communities during last year’s campaign. With that data, the communities could develop hyper-local descriptions of heat in their area and strategize the best mitigation efforts. Cities from previous campaigns have used the maps “to develop heat action plans, add cooling stations to bus shelters, educate residents and policymakers and inform new research,” according to NOAA’s release.
“Our nation faces a climate crisis that has exacerbated inequities for low-income communities and communities of color,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said. “NOAA is helping communities measure their hottest places so that they can use this information to inform strategies to reduce the unhealthy and deadly effects of extreme heat and help us build a Climate Ready Nation.”