Urban Heat Island project-background
According to the U.S. EPA heat islands are urbanized areas that experience higher temperatures than outlying areas. Columbus has the fastest-growing urban heat island effect of major U.S. cities. This impacts health, wildlife, and the economy. Extreme heat kills more Americans than any other weather event, and can lead to illnesses such as heat stroke and exhaustion, but not everyone’s risk is the same. A 2021 EPA report concluded that Black and African American individuals are 40-59% more likely than non-Black and non-African American individuals to currently live in high-impact heat mortality areas. Studies have also shown that hotter days are linked to worse test scores for Black and Hispanic children, widening the racial gap in schools.
The City of Columbus, along with partners Franklin County Public Health, Green Columbus, the Ohio State University’s Byrd Climate and Polar Research Center, Friends of the Lower Olentangy, MORPC, and the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, will map the hottest parts of the city and surrounding areas in Franklin County.
NOAA-funded CAPA Strategies, LLC will work with local partners and the community in the summer of 2022 to collect data necessary to protect disproportionately affected neighborhoods. Using heat sensors mounted on their own cars or bikes, volunteer citizen scientists, led by Columbus and Franklin County, will traverse their neighborhoods in the morning, afternoon, and evening on one of the hottest days of the year. The sensors record temperature, humidity, time, and the volunteers’ location every second. CAPA's end-to-end program, including sensor technology, analysis and modeling, and community engagement, allows communities to develop hyper-local descriptions of heat and strategize mitigation options specific to each region of the country.
Data gathered in Columbus will inform implementation of the community-wide Columbus Climate Action Plan, particularly around imparting environmental justice and building climate resiliency. It will shape actions such as creating a regional climate hazards alert system, establishing a network of resiliency hubs, and increasing equitable tree canopy.
Urban Heat Island project-action
The city is taking steps to address it. Columbus is one of 16 cities to receive a NOAA-funded project to map out the heat islands through a community-led campaign.
The project seeks roughly 200 volunteers to drive along a predetermined route over three separate one-hour periods during a hot day collecting data from equipment that will be provided. Each route will have 2-3 people--a driver, navigator, and backup.
Drivers will need a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, and access to a vehicle. In addition to the three hours of data collection, volunteers will first be asked to attend a one-hour Volunteer Training Session, complete a short knowledge quiz, and sign a liability waiver. Drivers will be compensated.
The date of the heat mapping will be sometime between August 5th and 17th. The exact date will be known a few days beforehand (depends on atmospheric conditions).
If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or would like to learn more, please respond to this Volunteer Intake Form or email David R. Celebrezze at [email protected].
Questions? To learn more about the CAPA Heat Watch program, check out the CAPA Heat Watch.