This summer, the University of Nebraska Medical Center Researchers, local experts, and nonprofits will team with citizen scientists to capture temperature and humidity data across our region during a one-day heat mapping campaign. As part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization’s (NOAA) Urban Heat Island Mapping Project, the data will reveal in which neighborhoods it’s hottest in our region and help inform policies and projects that address heat-related health issues, lower the risk of heat stress, and aim to mitigate heat islands. The second phase of the project will then be to conduct a community survey to understand perceptions of urban heat and extreme heat events in Omaha. Using these quantitative and qualitative data, we can begin to develop heat action plans to be more resilient to change in our climate.
Heat islands are urbanized areas that experience higher temperatures largely due to their built environment. Roads, parking, buildings, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes, causing these areas to become “islands” of higher temperatures.
Extreme heat exerts a severe toll on communities in the United States, with an average annual mortality rate twice that of storms and floods. Heat vulnerability mapping of Nebraska has shown that Omaha - the largest city in the state - has unique geographical and socioeconomic features in comparison to the rest of the state. Omaha has a hot-summer humid continental climate due to its geographic location on the continent. Omaha is defined by historical redlining of racial and ethnic minority areas. Redlining has led to longstanding segregation of populations in Omaha, which is still evident in the current distribution of people in the city. Historical redlining of neighborhoods in cities has been linked to a variety of health disparities and environmental exposures. Understanding how heat is distributed in our community can help to inform heat mitigation efforts, while addressing inequitable distribution of urban heat risk and vulnerability.
Interested in volunteering or have more questions? Contact Abdoulaziz Abdoulaye.