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Past UHI Campaigns Map637151442323849935


NOAA's Climate Program Office and the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) promote local efforts for adaptation to extreme heat in urban settings. NOAA offers financial support and customizable materials for community efforts to map and measure the distribution of temperatures within urban areas, including Urban Heat Islands (UHI) in cities across the United States. Unlike relying on satellite data, these efforts include in-situ measurements and are intentionally designed to involve multiple local stakeholders to collaboratively explore and develop strategies to mitigate the human health risks of extreme heat.

To help us achieve economies of scale that we otherwise could not achieve, we established a public-private partnership that includes entities within academia, municipal government, non-profit organizations, and commercial companies. CAPA Strategies was selected to lead the UHI mapping and modeling campaigns, after a competitive selection process run by NOAA’s Office of Education demonstrated successful outcomes in Richmond, VA. CAPA Strategies is a private company founded by a respected and well-established university professor who has published several peer-reviewed papers on techniques for measuring and modeling urban heat, and techniques for improving infrastructure to mitigate heat health risk. In this partnership, CAPA provides equipment to concurrently measure temperatures across ‘cityscapes’; training for citizen scientist participants; analysis using state-of-the-science machine learning algorithms; computational capacity to aggregate and process all resulting data and to ultimately produce detailed maps of the cities’ hottest places.

NOAA provides funding and logistical support, targeted weather and climate predictions, advice for the campaigns, as well as community building capacity and long-term support for implementing the UHI datasets in planning and preparedness through the NIHHIS network. Over the past three years, we have enabled residents of 11 cities to develop detailed map layers of differential ambient temperatures at the tax lot and city block scales. The ultimate goal of providing useful fine-scale urban climate information is to reduce heat health risk, particularly among those most vulnerable to its effects. To learn more about this initiative, visit our page on past campaigns. To learn more about Urban Heat Islands, visit our Understanding Urban Heat Islands page. This introductory video describes CAPA's approach to Citizen Science Urban Heat Island mapping campaigns.

Planning the 2020 Campaign

We anticipate continuing our support for mapping efforts in the summer of 2020 to accommodate up to 20 new cities (based on congressional appropriations and the availability of funding). We will solicit interest from cities via a standardized application form and convene a panel of partners from NIHHIS to evaluate the applications and select 2020 candidate cities.. The selection will be based on, among other criteria spelled out below, whether a municipal staff member is identified who has the capacity to advance a community-based campaign and to catalyze local actions to prevent heat health risk. Each selected city  will require a lead organization to plan and host the local campaign (often a museum or local NGO office or local government), and to follow the developed CAPA Strategies campaign workflow.

Tentative Timeline

27 January 2020
Application form opens on this page. An announcement will go out via the Heat Beat e-newsletter as well as through several other partners. Please email to join our mailing list.

2 March 2020
Application Deadline for interested cities.

20 March 2020
Anticipated Notification of selected cities.

23-27 March 2020
Onboarding call scheduled with selected cities

We anticipate beginning the 2020 campaigns in June, and completing all 20 campaigns by October.

Selection Process

There may be more interest than we have funds or capacity to support in 2020; therefore, we will use a review process to select the cities. Interested applicants will be expected to address the following criteria in their application form:

  • Do you have the ability to self-fund part or all of your local campaign?
    NOAA’s Climate Program Office will provide limited seed funding (subject to the Federal budget process) for this initiative, but the funds may not cover all potential cities. A rough estimate of the cost of a campaign is about $10,000 per medium-sized city (~50 square miles), but this estimate depends on mapping area and other factors. In past campaigns, funding per city has varied from 100% self-funded to 100% NOAA-funded, but this decision is made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Do you have local leaders and ready partners required to make your campaign a success?
    Experience shows that cities with strong leadership from a local host organization as well as a robust set of partners from all sectors — education, government, NGOs, and the private sector — make more effective campaigns and, thus, will be given higher priority.
  • Does your city have an urgent need for this information? If so, what is timely about this effort?
    Cities with an established UHI problem and a clear existing need for UHI information to support local long-term planning and risk mitigation efforts will be preferred because the information will be immediately useful and applicable.
  • Are you engaged in existing NOAA and/or NIHHIS activities which can be leveraged by a local UHI campaign?
    NOAA and the NIHHIS network is well represented across the United States. Campaigns are encouraged to connect with these existing investments and partnerships, some of which are listed below:

In addition to these considerations, other factors such as diversity of urban climate and urban structure (density, land use) may be considered in selecting cities to facilitate a better sample of city types for more robust model analysis.


  • What happens if more than one organization from my city applies?
    • Campaigns are most effective with a clear lead organization and many collaborating partners, so we will work with interested applicants to help synergize their efforts locally. Casting a wide net for partners when coordinating your application survey response will help minimize potential for duplication.
  • My city already has existing urban heat island maps, but we are interested in doing the campaign. May I still apply?
    • Some city officials have indicated that their existing urban heat island maps are not sufficient for their long-term planning needs. So, yes, you may still apply. These campaigns are different from many other mapping approaches in that they consolidate satellite imagery and in-situ temperature information to create highly accurate and high resolution maps. For more information consult a recent publication on the mapping process [].
  • What is the difference between the maps created by this project and those created through satellite measurements? And which one is more accurate?
    • Satellite measurements provide descriptions of surface “skin” temperatures, which includes roadways, sidewalks, and the tops of buildings and trees. The maps produced from this work describes air (or ambient) temperatures approximately 6 feet (2 m) above the ground. Satellite images are also lower resolution in time, space, and measurement. Recent studies show there are significant differences in temperature between satellite and ground-based measurements.
  • I am a resident of a city, and do not work in this space, but I would like to see my city mapped or be involved in a campaign.
    • Great! We encourage you to reach out to your local science museum, city government, and other organizations to see if they are interested in coordinating a campaign.
    • If you would like to volunteer as a citizen scientist for a campaign in your area, just sign up for our newsletter to stay informed, and you’ll be among the first to know if your city was chosen for a campaign! Email to join the Heat Beat email list.
  • Are cities outside of the United States able to be a part of this?
    • Yes, we will consider running a few campaigns in other countries, however this presents additional logistical challenges that we will need to work through and may also be limited by domestic funding constraints (NOAA funds will be available for U.S. cities).
  • My city is planning to do our own UHI mapping soon. Can we still work with you?
    • Absolutely. Though limited in capacity in terms of the number of cities we can map though the CAPA process any given year, we welcome collaboration with other cities and scientists working on urban heat island mapping. The campaigns are part of a broader effort to improve information and decision-making to reduce heat risk across the nation.
  • I would like to work with CAPA to map the UHI in my city even if I’m not chosen for NOAA support. Is this possible?
    • Yes. CAPA is an independent company and you can directly contract with them; or you may engage with another urban heat mapping service provider of your choice.



The Urban Heat Island Citizen Science Campaigns are made possible by:




NIHHIS is made possible by our participating agencies.










NIHHIS Headquarters

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

About Us

The NIHHIS is an integrated 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. The 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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