Roanoke fighting ‘urban heat island’ through city-wide temperature mapping project

A collaborative effort between the city and NOAA will determine which areas of Roanoke are hottest

ROANOKE, Va. – Studies have shown that afternoon temperatures in cities rise 15 to 20 degrees higher than surrounding rural areas. This is known as the “urban heat island” and it can cause an increased risk for respiratory illnesses, heat exhaustion and stroke and other factors.

Why we should care about urban heat islands
Why we should care about urban heat islands (WSLS)

The city of Roanoke has identified this as a problem and applied for a grant from NOAA to work toward a solution.

Volunteers drove around the city with temperature sensors on their vehicles three times per day: morning, afternoon and evening.

The data will be used in tandem with satellite observations to map which areas of the city get hottest.

NOAA Climate and Health Project manager Hunter Jones said the city will be able to use that information to combat the urban heat island.

“Cities are taking action to manage extreme heat that’s impacting their residents,” Jones said. “The information we’re developing by mapping the urban heat island in cities is really powerful to help inform decision-making on an urban scale.”

Some of the ways the city will be able to beat the heat include developing more green space, more access to public air conditioning, whitewashing asphalt and more.

How to fight urban heat islands
How to fight urban heat islands (WSLS)

Jones said the mapping process will take a few months and he expects the data to be ready by late fall or early winter.

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