Meet the 2021 Campaign Cities

Kansas City, Missouri

Year: 2021

Campaign Lead Organization(s): University of Missouri–Kansas City Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Get Involved:

Fengpeng Sun |


More hot days by the end of the century compared to the beginning (US CRT Climate Explorer)


Population that does not speak English "very well" compared to 8.4% national average. (2019 ACS - US Census)


Population living in poverty, compared to 12.5% national average. (2019 ACS - US Census)


Population living alone, compared to 15% national average. (2019 ACS - US Census)


The issue of urban heat island (UHI) intensity in Kansas City has been well described in recent research. A 2014 study by Climate Central ranked Kansas City as having the seventh greatest UHI intensity out of the 60 cities they analyzed. A recent climate modeling study by a UMKC research group found that the surface temperature in more densely built-up areas of Kansas City can reach up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than temperatures in rural locations. Figure below shows the surface air temperature distribution in a north-south cross-section through the Kansas City metropolitan area at approximately -94.6° longitude in a typical summer day. This study also showed that those with lower median household income tend to be affected most by the UHI effect due being located areas with a greater density of built-up land cover. 

The measurements and detailed maps produced through the UHI campaign will help local government officials and our community groups understand the spatial inhomogeneity in urban heat. It assists them to decide where in the city they can take actions to protect vulnerable neighborhoods and communities from exposing to extremely hot temperatures in the long-term climate resilience planning. The information will also allow city planners, nonprofit organizations, and our community organizations to prioritize urban heat as areas for public health intervention, green infrastructure development, and environmental hazard monitoring. 

Understanding distribution of heat is also socio-economically important. By integrating the urban heat data from this campaign and publicly available demographic, and socio-economic information, we can further leverage this project to explore the intersection of excessive urban heat and social vulnerability and disparity to better understand the needs of local communities facing the most acute impact of ongoing and future climate change.
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Figure: Two-meter air temperature (T2) from a north-south cross-section through the Kansas City metropolitan area at approximately -94.6° longitude in a typical summer day. Data is from a high-resolution (1km x 1km) regional climate simulations by Professor Fengpeng Sun’s research group. Differences in two-meter air temperature are strongly influenced by land cover type, creating the urban heat island effect.


Lead Organization(s)

University of Missouri–Kansas City Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Partner Organizations

  • The Kansas City Missouri Office of Environmental Quality
  • The Missouri Local Science Engagement Network
  • The Mid-America Regional Council
  • Missouri Office of the Public Counsel
  • Evergy
  • Bridging The Gap Inc.
  • Kansas City Teen Summit

Campaign Goals / Anticipated Outcomes

1) to engage people living in Kansas City communities, especially those in areas of lower income, on the UHI effect and its adverse impacts on health;

2) to understand the spatial variability of temperatures throughout the city in order to provide our local government with data so that they can implement targeted methods of UHI mitigation;

3) to promote citizen science in order to enhance community participation in local issues;

4) and to utilize data obtained from this campaign in future climate research performed by the University of Missouri – Kansas City and partners.

NIHHIS is made possible by our participating agencies.





Department of Agriculture Forest Service









NIHHIS Headquarters

Address: 1315 East-West Hwy, Suite 1100
Silver Spring, MD 20910

About Us

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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