Addressing the Urban Heat Island through an Equity Lens: A Citizen Science Project

Lead PI: Dr. Liv Yoon
January 2021 - December 2022
North America ; New York, NY
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: We plan to address the issue of ‘urban heat island effect’ (UHIE) – cities reaching higher temperatures than surrounding rural landscapes due to the absorption and trapping of heat by asphalt and concrete – and its disproportionate impacts on low-income neighborhoods in New York City (NYC). In addition to contributing greenhouse gas emissions via increased energy consumption and adversely impacting natural and built environments, UHIE also poses significant threats to human health and quality of life. These threats burden those in low socioeconomic status neighborhoods most, as they are more likely to be in housing without air conditioning, and live in neighborhoods with more traffic, polluting industries, and little to no greenspace. The South Bronx, East Inwood, Harlem, and East Harlem have been identified as neighborhoods most vulnerable to heat health risk in NYC (NYC Environment & Health Data Portal, 2020). In collaboration with local environmental justice groups, we will incorporate a citizen science approach, in which local residents are equipped with the tools and skills to collect temperature related data. Our project will leverage past and ongoing efforts by the city to measure near-surface ambient temperature using remote sensing data to map and mitigate heat vulnerability and risk (Cool Neighborhoods NYC, 2017).

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