ROANOKE, Va. – Just last year, the city of Roanoke was part of a study to learn more about urban heat islands within the city and what can be done to improve it.
You might be wondering what urban heat islands is. It occurs in areas where buildings and asphalt cause temperatures to run 15-20° warmer in urban areas versus rural areas nearby.
The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (HIHHIS) along with many other organizations have designed special sensors that are mounted onto cars and bikes of volunteer scientists. These volunteers were given specific routes to travel three times a day. The temperature, humidity and precise location of the sensor were recorded every second along the route.
This crucial information is helping scientists learn more about urban heat island and how to prevent heat-related illnesses and increased energy consumption.
Vivek Shandas, a professor and climate consultant with CAPA strategies said, “the idea of being an to collect hundreds of thousands of temperatures measurements and as our campaign organizers have said, the maps and the metrics speak for themselves.”
The hope is that by identifying and mapping out these urban heat islands, city officials and community groups will be able to make improvements in order to protect people from extreme heat.
“Once people are educated about their risk and they see these maps and they see that their home is in one of these really red areas - that awareness can go so far pretty much immediately,” says Hunter Jones, the Climate & Health Project Manager with NOAA’s climate program office.