News Update

NOAA, communities to map heat inequities

May 2023 | No Comment

This summer, NOAA and citizen scientists will map the hottest parts of 18 communities in 14 states across the country and in one international city. Identifying these hotspots, called urban heat islands, helps local decision-makers take actions to reduce the health impacts of extreme heat, which often target the most vulnerable.

Now in its seventh year, the NOAA Urban Heat Island (UHI) mapping campaign addresses extreme heat, the number one weather-related cause of death in the U.S. for the last three decades. Urban heat islands— areas with few trees and more pavement that absorbs heat — can be up to 20 degrees fahrenheit hotter than nearby neighborhoods with more trees, grass and less black asphalt.

The cities and counties selected this year have a range of experiences with extreme heat, but each is looking for equitable ways to implement cooling solutions in their communities. For example, Chicago experienced one of  the nation’s most deadly heat waves in 1995. It struck the city’s older adults, minorities and those with lower socio-economic status, resulting in nearly 500 reported deaths in a matter of days. Iowa City and Cedar Rapids faced a derecho event in 2020, and lost many trees in the region, decreasing shade for residents.

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