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NIHHIS News

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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CEE's John Coggin Speaks to DC-area Media about Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign 27 July 2021

CEE's John Coggin Speaks to DC-area Media about Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign

Coggin spoke about the importance of the campaign in an interview with NBC4 as he volunteered with the Arlington County, Virginia community in their efforts to map urban heat.

Webinar Series - Urban Heat Island Solutions Across the US 22 July 2021

Webinar Series - Urban Heat Island Solutions Across the US

Learning from the NIHHIS UHI Community of Practice

Image from Wikipedia
The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) and its partners are hosting a webinar series to feature community case studies on what happens after Urban Heat Island mapping campaigns are conducted. The first webinar of the series, “Exploring the Heat Hazard”, will take place on July 29th at 2PM EDT and will highlight the range of experience of heat across the US. Key discussions will include a variety of methods and approaches to measure heat, from satellites, mobile transects, stationary observations, to wearable sensors. Speakers for this event include Jen Runkle (NC State University), Cameron Lee (Kent State University), and Brian Garcia (Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NOAA/NWS), with moderation by Noura Randle (NOAA/CPO). Learn more about the webinars and register for the webinar series here.

NOAA’s Climate Program Office awards over $1 million to improve climate information, services for extreme heat resilience 29 June 2021

NOAA’s Climate Program Office awards over $1 million to improve climate information, services for extreme heat resilience

Five new projects will build on outcomes from NOAA’s community-led urban heat mapping campaigns

The projects will support decision making in city neighborhoods grappling with inequitably distributed impacts from the deadliest weather-related risk in the United States—extreme heat. 

Upcoming Webinar: What Happens When You Go “Hyperlocal”? The Legacy of Inequitable Heat Exposure in U.S. Cities 18 May 2021

Upcoming Webinar: What Happens When You Go “Hyperlocal”? The Legacy of Inequitable Heat Exposure in U.S. Cities

The webinar will explore how increasing community engagement in both understanding and measuring urban heat through the use of a novel participatory research campaign framework can lead to climate action efficacy in US cities.

18th Annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop Features CPO Staff and Honorary Panel for Ken Mooney 27 April 2021

18th Annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop Features CPO Staff and Honorary Panel for Ken Mooney

The workshop brought together a diverse community to share developments in research and application of weather and climate information for societal decision-making.

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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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