Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign
Charlottesville participated in the 2021 NIHHIS-CAPA Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign, a nationwide citizen-science based effort to collect local data on temperatures and humidity levels across the city. How urban environments and neighborhoods are built affects the amount of heat absorbed and retained, which can increase or reduce the impact of extreme heat events. Increases in extreme heat are one of the top projected impacts Charlottesville will experience from climate change.
- Learn more about Charlottesville's projected climate hazards through the Climate Vulnerability Assessment.
- Learn more about Urban Heat Islands.
2021 Data Collection Campaign Results
Due to a favorably-timed heat wave and availability of ~30 volunteers (data collectors plus backups), Charlottesville's 2021 data collection was successfully completed on August 24, 2021.
The collected data has been processed by CAPA Strategies and is now available via the linked files below. The GIS-based data files are available on the City's Open Data Portal.
- 2021 Heat Watch Campaign Report (PDF)
- 2021 Heat Watch Campaign Data Files and Report (compressed ZIP file)
Future updates will be announced when available; please sign up for the 'Climate Action' News Flash alerts on the City's Notify Me webpage for future notifications.
This mapping project aims to:
- Provide insight into heat vulnerabilities in the city and how they impact the urban environment. Learn more about urban heat islands and heat vulnerabilities.
- Recognize any correlation between land type and temperature using GIS. For example, natural landscapes retain less heat than concrete and asphalt, hence resulting in higher temperatures in urban than rural areas.
- Gain a general understanding of how temperature varies in the area and identify heat clusterings. Identification of hotspots can inform actions by the community to reduce the harm at those places and target more resources there (ex. trees planting, new energy buildings).
- Quantify the impact that extreme heat has on the region and local climate.
- Inform broader implications on public health, environmental protection, and socioeconomic factors.
- Engage community members in knowing and protecting regional ecosystems.
We need you!
To be successful, we need a team of community volunteers to help gather this data.
Data collection will be at three different times on a single day, to be determined by local weather. Based on historic weather patterns, we’re looking at the last two weeks of August 2021. As we get closer, a NOAA Weather Forecast Officer will help identify an exact date that looks to have high temperatures and low precipitation.
Volunteers can sign up to collect data for one, two, or three of the time slots. Volunteers are needed to drive, help navigate, or bike one of the pre-set data collection routes. We are aiming to have 5 driving routes and at least a couple of biking routes.
We've received a tremendous response from the community with interest to volunteer (over 100 people responded within about a week). This is more support than we have roles to fill, so we are disabling the Volunteer Interest Form link (below). Community members interested in future volunteer opportunities are encouraged to subscribe to 'Climate Action' News Flash alerts on the City's Notify Me webpage.
How do Volunteers Participate?
- Step 1: Complete our Volunteer Interest Form (link currently disabled). Please do this as soon as possible to let us know you’re interested.
- Step 2: Attend a virtual training about this campaign, how to use the equipment, and what else to expect. The training will be offered live with opportunity to ask questions. A recording will be available for anyone who cannot attend live.
- Step 3: Complete the online Knowledge Check questionnaire to confirm understanding of the training information and sign the campaign waiver.
- Step 4: Stay in touch with the local campaign organizer (the City’s Climate Protection Program) about availability & dates/times to collect the equipment and attach it to your vehicle.
- Step 5: Data Collection Day! Collect the data and hand-off or turn in the equipment when your time is done.
- Step 6: Cool off and celebrate the results of this campaign and your contribution (with a small ‘Thank You’ gift from us).
How will the data be analyzed after collection?
CAPA Strategies will use ESRI’s ArcMap GIS to create a grid of squares with each square representing the temperature and/or humidity. The result is a continuous raster map.
How will the data be used and shared?
Data will inform planning efforts for Charlottesville’s climate adaptation planning. Data will also be transferred to the City via the ArcGIS online platform, after which it will made available for public access on the City’s website and the City’s Open Data portal
How will the desired data be collected?
Heat-sensing equipment will be provided that attaches to the car (or bike) while volunteers follow the designated routes and locations during certain times on a hot, clear day. Pre-set routes are identified to traverse the city to collect data.
When is the data collection day?
The exact day for data collection will be determined by local weather. Based on historic weather patterns, we’re focusing on the last two weeks of August 2021. As we get closer, a NOAA Weather Forecast Officer will help identify an exact date that looks to have high temperatures and low precipitation.
Data will be collected at three set times on that day (6:00-7:00AM, 3:00-4:00PM, 7:00-8:00PM.
What type of data are we collecting?
Temperature and humidity data that is linked to GPS coordinates.