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City staff and community members will hit the streets of Roanoke this summer to collect data about the distribution of heat, as part of a regional effort to map where people are most at risk during extreme heat waves. Roanoke will partner with Clean Valley Council to organize the volunteer team of "Citizen Scientists"; volunteer recruitment will begin on Friday, June 12. The group will select a hot day in August to collect the data in a specified area of the City using their own cars or bikes equipped with special temperature-sensing equipment. Group members will run their route three times – early morning, mid-afternoon, evening. The sensors will then be returned for analysis and mapping. City staff will take the heat island map and overlay it with a poverty map and possibly a COVID-19 map, to see where the data intersects. The final report will also make recommendations to reduce the surface temperature in the hot areas.
The City of Roanoke received a grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to create an urban heat island map of the City. Heat island effect is the escalating heat generated by hard and dark surfaces (asphalt, buildings, etc.) temperatures can vary be almost 20 degrees in some areas. NOAA has also identified that escalating heat is the most likely impact of climate change in our area. As demonstrated in the study completed in Richmond, heat island effect tends to be highest in areas of poverty, putting those communities at even higher risk. Finally, NOAA is interested in receiving this higher level of information than is available through satellites. There are 13 cities in the United States participating in this project; Roanoke is the only locality from Virginia participating.
For more information, visit CAPA Heat Watch. If you have questions about Roanoke’s initiative, please contact Nell Boyle, Sustainability & Outreach Coordinator for the City of Roanoke, at 540-853-5430 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.