Apr 27, 2022 - News

Boulder selected to help with NOAA heat mapping campaign

Locations of new and existing heat island mapping campaigns. Map courtesy of NOAA

Boulder will serve as a benchmark to determine how our climate crisis is impacting certain neighborhoods more than others — and how best to close the gap.

Driving the news: The city was selected Tuesday as one of 16 communities in the U.S. and abroad to be part of a study overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that will examine the Urban Heat Island Effect.

  • Dozens of Boulder residents trained as "community scientists" will stroll their neighborhoods this summer on one of the hottest days of the year using sensors to record data, including temperature, humidity, time and precise location.

Why it matters: The information they collect could be critical to bring local and equitable solutions to cities across the country and beyond, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods that have historically lacked tree coverage and other cooling infrastructure.

  • Researchers have used grants from NOAA since 2017 to map the urban heat islands of dozens of other major U.S. cities and have found glaring effects of redlining, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

What they're saying: The nation's climate crisis "has exacerbated inequities for low-income communities and communities of color," NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement.

  • "NOAA is helping communities measure their hottest places so that they can … reduce the unhealthy and deadly effects of extreme heat and help us build a climate ready nation," Spinrad added.

Of note: Other communities selected for this year's list include Las Vegas; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Sierra Leone, Africa.

The bottom line: Urgency is escalating around the globe for scientists and policymakers to tackle heat exposure disparities within our most-vulnerable communities.


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