Montgomery County has put out a call recruiting volunteers to help county leaders map urban heat islands.
This summer, Montgomery County is doing a community heat-mapping project that will bring together local organizations and volunteers to produce heat maps and generate creative and collaborative solutions for extreme heat in our area. Montgomery will be one of 16 jurisdictions globally that will collaborate with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and community scientists to map heat inequities.
Urban Heat Islands are areas that can be up to 20 degrees hotter than nearby neighborhoods due to buildings, pavement, and other parts of urban environments amplifying high temperatures. Extreme heat kills more Americans than any other weather event, but not everyone’s risk is the same. The project will help county leaders identify where local resources can be implemented to protect vulnerable neighborhoods both now and in the future.
According to the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), the term urban heat island,
refers to the fact that cities tend to get much warmer than their surrounding rural landscapes, particularly during the summer. This temperature difference occurs when cities’ unshaded roads and buildings gain heat during the day and radiate that heat into the surrounding air. As a result, highly developed urban areas can experience mid-afternoon temperatures that are 15°F to 20°F warmer than surrounding, vegetated areas.
As already mentioned above, various factors can both reduce and increase the amount of heat retained in a neighborhood. For example, the ratio of vegetation to impervious surfaces (such as concrete or asphalt) and colors used on rooftops and exteriors play a role in increasing or decreasing heat.
Since 2017, NOAA has funded a partnership between NIHHIS and Climate Adaptation Planning and Analytics (CAPA) Strategies to try and map urban heat islands in the United States. The data from this project is being used to better understand urban heat islands and form better planning and zoning policy.