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Event date: 11/10/2020 Export event

Learn How to Map the Urban Heat Island Effect with ARSET this November

Authors: Jonathan O’Brien, Sean Mccartney and Ana Prados (NASA)

Heat stress accounts for more than 600 deaths in the US annually (CDC). This problem is especially prevalent in urbanized areas. Why do more people per capita die of heat in the city than outside of it? There is an artificial weather phenomenon you may have heard about called the “urban heat island” effect. In essence, the effect is just as the name implies, an island of heat in urban areas. This is due to the impervious surfaces (e.g. paved roads, parking lots, and roofs) that cities are comprised of. These surfaces are especially good at trapping heat, but not so good at letting it go. Because of the way these surfaces trap heat, the ambient temperature in the city will often be higher than the surrounding areas, with the greatest difference in temperature occurring at night. This is important to note, since heat stroke susceptibility is dependent not just on the ambient temperature, but also a person’s ability to cool down effectively at night so their body can recover. This is one of the reasons the urban heat island effect is so dangerous.

An interesting fact is that satellites can observe the urban heat island from space by estimating the land surface temperature (LST). Land surface temperature is not the same as ambient temperature, and variations occur depending on the time of observation, but it is frequently used as a proxy for ambient temperature. If the surface of a stove is hot, it’s a good bet that whatever is sitting on top of it is pretty toasty too. To further refine the analysis, field temperature readings are usually collected by boots on the ground to validate and supplement the data collected from space. With these satellite observations we can create a temperature map of the city and the surrounding areas. These maps can be especially useful when paired with other data such as surface type or land cover and human data such as socioeconomic, demographic, and health variables. Through these types of analyses we can gain a holistic view of the heat situation on the ground and how it has changed over time.

Credit: NASA DEVELOP

With increasing urbanization and rising temperatures, this topic will only become more important in the future. If you are interested in getting in on the action and learning how to map out the urban heat island in your city, join the Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET) program for a three-part online training beginning on November 10. During the first session of this training series you will learn how to estimate LST in Google Earth Engine using Earth observations from Landsat. You will also be presented with background information on urban heat islands (UHI) and have a chance to familiarize yourself with satellites and sensors that can be used to map them. The second session of this series will introduce you to UHI case studies and go over methods for integrating in situ observations with satellite imagery for select US cities. The third and final session will cover long term mitigation strategies and present a case study of UHI and land cover in Huntsville, Alabama.

Sessions include guest speakers from NASA, USGS, NOAA, and Portland State University. There is no cost to participants and no prior experience is required. For more information or to register, visit appliedsciences.nasa.gov/arset.

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Bracing for Heat in Minnesota - New case study published on the Climate Resilience Toolkit 19 August 2016

Bracing for Heat in Minnesota - New case study published on the Climate Resilience Toolkit

Heat waves bring some level of discomfort to nearly everyone. When excessive heat catches vulnerable populations off guard, though, discomfort can advance to illness and even death. Learn about strategies that help protect people in both rural and urban settings.

Heat waves bring some level of discomfort to nearly everyone. When excessive heat catches vulnerable populations off guard, though, discomfort can advance to illness and even death. Learn about strategies that help protect people in both rural and urban settings.
How to weather this week's heat wave 21 July 2016

How to weather this week's heat wave

Chicagoans try to beat the summer heat. Dawn Rhodes, Contact Reporter, Chicago Tribune

Everyone from health officials to utilities companies are offering advice on how to weather the heat wave the end of this week.
Heat wave still scorching the nation 20 July 2016

Heat wave still scorching the nation

By Doug Criss, CNN Updated 8:08 PM ET, Wed July 20, 2016

(CNN) Unless you're lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, summer's been unflinchingly brutal this week.The so-called heat dome -- a large area of high temperatures and humidity -- has been baking a good portion of the country for days and there's no relief in sight. The heat will continue to sear parts of the nation, right on through the weekend.

First Regional NIHHIS Rio Grande/Bravo Workshop in El Paso, TX 19 July 2016

First Regional NIHHIS Rio Grande/Bravo Workshop in El Paso, TX

On Wednesday, July 13th, the National Integrated Heat Health Information System held its first regional workshop in El Paso (during an active heat wave and under threat of rolling blackouts) to understand the heat-health needs and unique adaptive approaches of the Rio Grande/Bravo region.

Could the Imminent U.S. Heat Wave Trigger a Flash Drought? 19 July 2016

Could the Imminent U.S. Heat Wave Trigger a Flash Drought?

By: Bob Henson , 12:36 AM GMT on July 19, 2016

A massive upper-level high will envelop most of the contiguous U.S. in the last half of July, setting up what could be a prolonged bout of extreme heat for millions of Americans. If the scorching weather persists into August, the odds of a “flash drought” in the nation’s heartland will rise sharply (along with the odds that the U.S. will notch its hottest summer on record, in line with what’s very likely to be Earth’s warmest year on record).

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NIHHIS is an integrated information system that builds understanding of the problem of extreme heat, defines demand for climate services that enhance societal resilience, develops science-based products and services from a sustained climate science research program, and improves capacity, communication, and societal understanding of the problem in order to reduce morbidity and mortality due to extreme heat.  NIHHIS is a jointly developed system by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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