Montgomery County has been chosen to take part in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) “Urban Heat Mapping Campaign” this summer. The County is seeking volunteers to use heat sensors mounted onto their cars as they travel their neighborhoods on one of the hottest days of the year.
The sensors will record temperature, humidity, time and location. Neighborhoods involved will include about 200 square miles in Montgomery County, encompassing more populated areas like Gaithersburg, Germantown, Rockville, Silver Spring and Wheaton.
“These local maps will help us identify where we can take action to protect vulnerable neighborhoods now and in the future from extreme heat risk,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “We are pleased to be participating in this nationally competitive program and continuing our work in Montgomery County toward equitable climate resilience.”
This campaign is part of a national effort to track “Urban Heat Islands.” Heat inequities will be tracked in 14 states and two international cities. 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 compared to nearby vegetated areas. They can put people at heightened risk of illness and death during extreme heat events.
Through this effort local climate scientists and residents will work together to identify the hottest areas in the County. Heat equity refers to the development of policies and practices that mitigate heat islands and help people adapt to the impacts of extreme heat in a way that reduces the inequitable distribution of risks across different populations within the same urban area.
“This initiative is one of the many ways the County plans to involve the community in strengthening our resilience to climate change,” said County Climate Change Officer and County Department of Environmental Protection Acting Director Adriana Hochberg. “Collaboration between scientists, government, and communities at the local level is essential to our efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.”
Agencies involved in past campaigns have used heat island maps to develop heat action plans, add cooling stations to bus shelters and educate residents and policymakers. To learn more about urban heat islands, click here.
To register as a volunteer “street scientist” and learn more about the initiative in Montgomery County, visit bit.ly/HeatHealthMC.