Mayor John Cooper’s Office Collaborates with Universities and Community Partners to Map Heat Distribution Across Nashville Neighborhoods

Friday, June 17, as part of ongoing work around sustainability and resilience, the office of Mayor John Cooper announced a collaboration with Metro Nashville departments, university faculty and students, local nonprofits, and community members 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. The effort will help make Nashville a more livable, enjoyable city for all neighborhoods and further environmental justice.

If the MOU for collaboration is approved by Metro Council, this summer, community volunteers will travel around Nashville neighborhoods and use specially designed sensors mounted on vehicles to record temperatures and humidity during three specific times during the day.

“Extreme heat is a real threat to the health and wellbeing of our city and has significant impact on our vulnerable populations in particular,” said Mayor John Cooper. “I’m excited that this project will collect and make available data that can be used to inform future policies, programs and actions that address urban heat effects.”

In the U.S., heat waves harm more people than all other meteorological hazards combined. By measuring temperatures in tens of thousands of locations throughout a city, heat mapping can map what areas are warmest, and summarize reasons behind those patterns. Knowledge of heat distribution will help to inform heat mitigation efforts by city public health and environmental officials, nonprofits, urban planners, urban foresters and researchers.

“Areas within a city that have densely packed buildings, a lot of concrete, and little vegetation often have even more intense heat. This often causes high heat stress in populations who live in these areas. This project will help us better understand the areas within the city that are warmest, the characteristics that keep our cities cooler, and how to effectively incorporate heat-mitigating options, such as planting more trees, throughout Nashville,” said Dr. Alisa Hass, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Middle Tennessee State University.

Project partners include the Mayor’s Office, Metro Public Health Department, the Tennessee Climate Office, the Tennessee Department of Health, Middle Tennessee State University, Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Cumberland River Compact, Urban Green Lab, and Adventure Science Center.

NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO), the interagency National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), and CAPA Strategies, LLC are launching new community-led campaigns this summer in cities and counties across the United States. Nashville is one of 14 communities across the US that will be part of this effort in mapping urban heat islands. NOAA has funded CAPA Strategies LLC to provide science support for community-led campaigns to map urban heat islands.

Individuals interested in volunteering should contact Kendra Abkowitz, Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer at Metro Nashville | Davidson County.

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