At 3 pm, New York City is usually close to the hottest time of the day. The city has been soaking in the afternoon sun for several hours, accumulating heat among densely packed buildings, and wandering on concrete sidewalks. The hum of window air conditioners was enveloped in the heavy air.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon last month, the temperature rose to its highest point, and Martin Stute and Aboud Ezzeddine criss-crossed the comfortable air-conditioning of Stute’s Kia Nile air-conditioning. A small sensor attached to the passenger’s side window records the outside temperature and humidity in real time as they walk through the city streets.
Stute and Ezzeddine-a professor of environmental science at Barnard College and a master’s student in public health at the City University of New York-are completing the second shift of their day as volunteers to participate in a special urban heat map project .Cooperation between non-profit organizations South Bronx United and Columbia University Earth InstituteSponsored by NOAA, the project aims to find out which neighborhoods are hotter than others—and why.
Stute and Ezzeddine have been driving along the same route when the sun rises at 6 a.m., they will drive through Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx again at 7 p.m. The other volunteers are doing the same thing on different routes. time. The idea is to collect data from different communities at the same time of the day so that the temperature can be easily compared.
The second shift of Stute and Ezzeddine did not start smoothly. The small instrument in the window is programmed to automatically start collecting data at 3 pm. At that time, the flashing green light on the sensor should stop flashing and remain steady, indicating that it is ready.
However, after a few minutes, the light was still flashing. Stute and Ezzeddine wandered in the shade on the corner of 101st St. and West End Avenue, staring at the sensor through the window, discussing what to do. It worked very well during the first shift.
However, the setback did not last long. After a quick call with the project organizer, the organizer offered some long-standing suggestions—”Maybe try turning it off and then on again?”—the little green light finally stopped flashing. They are off work.
The collaboration between Columbia and South Bronx Unite is one of many heat map projects sponsored by NOAA this year. In San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Kansas City and other cities across the country, including a separate project in Brooklyn, there are other projects taking place.
‘There is a lot of complexity’
This is the fourth consecutive year that the agency has funded such projects as part of it U.S. Urban Heat Island Mapping Activities program. The sponsorship program is a collaborative project with the National Comprehensive Thermal Health Information Program and CAPA Strategies, an analysis company specializing in climate data.
The program provides sensors and helps project organizers plan their route. After that, CAPA processes the data collected by the sensors and integrates it with satellite maps so that the community can visually see which areas are hotter than others. These maps can help project organizers figure out which aspects of the urban environment may cause high temperatures.
“There is a lot of complexity in how the temperature changes,” said Christian Blaneen, a remote sensing expert at NASA, director of the Environmental Justice and Climate Justice Cities Network at Columbia University, and one of the project’s organizers. “It really has something to do with the urban form.”
Everything from the height and density of community buildings to the types of materials used in them affect the local temperature. Dense communities with many dark surfaces tend to be warmer. Vegetation helps cool the local climate, and communities with fewer trees or parks may be affected by more heat.
Studies have shown that the difference in urban heat from one block to another has a disproportionate impact on certain demographics. Low-income people and people of color are more likely to live in hotter neighborhoods in American cities (Climate line, December 10, 2020).
Research also shows that the long history of racist red lines — the practice of lenders refusing to provide mortgages and loans to areas with large ethnic minority populations — has led to differences in urban design, making some neighborhoods hotter than others. Although the red line was banned in 1968, its legacy still exists decades later. Studies have shown that previously redlined neighborhoods are still warmer than unredlined neighborhoods (Climate line, January 21, 2020).
These are important public health issues. High temperature is the biggest weather-related killer in the United States. Hundreds of people die from diseases related to high temperature every year across the country.
“Anytime someone gets hurt, we will all get hurt”
This summer is particularly extreme. Experts estimate that in the last month alone, hundreds of people died in the record-breaking heat wave in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists warn that as the climate warms, such extreme high temperature events are becoming more frequent and intense.
When a heat wave hits, communities that are already warmer than their surroundings may be more vulnerable. Low-income communities have lower air-conditioning usage, which makes the danger even greater. These issues are compounded by other challenges that these community members may face, including unequal access to health care.
A sort of Recent report Researchers from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that the death rate of black New Yorkers due to heat stress was disproportionately high—about twice the death rate of New York whites. In communities with a higher proportion of residents living below the poverty line, the mortality rate tends to be higher.
Braneon and other project organizers hope that the Heatmap project can help support interventions designed to reduce these differences—for example, by advocating for more parks and green spaces in hotter communities.
“I actually like to think of this project as the culmination of what we have been doing,” said Melissa Barber, co-founder of South Bronx Associates.
The organization deals with various environmental justice issues, such as advocating for more green spaces and reducing the community’s exposure to air pollution. One of the organization’s first activities was to prevent grocery delivery service FreshDirect from relocating its diesel trucking operations to the South Bronx, partly because of concerns about its impact on local air pollution.
Barber said that urban heating is an issue related to all the organization’s priorities.
The lack of green space has exacerbated the heat in the city, and the combination of high temperature and air pollution will exacerbate the impact on human health. She said she hopes the data from the project will help support the organization’s case when it came into contact with elected officials about environmental justice in the South Bronx.
She pointed out that these issues have become more urgent as climate change continues to push up temperatures.
“Most of us think we can actually ignore this problem, and it won’t affect us – but it does affect us,” she said. “Anytime someone gets hurt, we will get hurt.”
forward from Electronics News With permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2021. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.