Dallas, Texas – Amid the escalating concerns of climate change, the lethal menace of extreme heat claims more lives in America annually than any other weather-induced phenomenon. It is in light of this devastating reality that a collaborative initiative has been forged between climate scientists and the municipal authorities of Dallas. This concerted effort aims to delineate the varying degrees of heat experienced across the diverse neighborhoods within the city’s boundaries.
NOAA puts City of Dallas in their investigative campaign
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recognized the urgency of this matter and selected the City of Dallas as a focal point for their investigative campaign. Dallas stands as one of the 18 American communities selected to participate in a nationwide initiative aimed at meticulously mapping the urban heat islands within their borders.
According to Morgan Zabow, NOAA’s Community Heat and Health Information Coordinator, the concept of an urban heat island encapsulates the elevated temperatures observed within urban zones compared to their rural counterparts.
These islands of heat emerge as a consequence of the prevailing characteristics of an urban landscape, where the high-density concrete structures and human-made edifices trap heat during daylight hours, later to radiate it back into the urban sprawl.
Zabow further asserted that these heat maps could serve as a valuable tool in aiding the city’s efforts towards the development and implementation of efficient cooling strategies. They could potentially facilitate the formulation of strategic policies aimed at counteracting the deleterious effects of urban heat.
“It can really help the city in trying to implement cooling solutions…and maybe help with some policies in trying to address heat too,” Zabow said.
“Trees can directly cool us, the most obvious way right is through shading,” said Emily Plauche, an urban forestry coordinator with the Texas Trees Foundation.
Texas Trees Foundation has planted about 1.5 million trees since the organization was founded
Since its inception in 1982, the Texas Trees Foundation has been a vital contributor to the city’s green efforts, planting an estimated 1.5 million trees. The Foundation continued this legacy by enhancing the landscape of Foster Elementary School in Dallas with several dozen trees last fall.
“School campuses are some of the least tree-d areas in the city, actually,” Plauche said. “They have very low canopy cover so coming in and planting trees is gonna be really important to cool the outdoor spaces for students.”
She said planting trees is a great way to combat urban heat islands. “Trees really help cool our cities and make them more livable.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeks help from Dallas residents for better results
To generate an accurate topography of the city’s thermal dynamics, NOAA researchers are seeking active participation from Dallas’ citizens. This ambitious endeavor relies on a volunteer-led data collection effort, as detailed by Zabow.
“Volunteers from the City of Dallas will go out and collect air temperature data as well as humidity data with a sensor that they either attach to their car or their bike,” Zabow explained. “These volunteers will travel around predetermined routes around the city three times during the day…this data is able to produce a report that gives us a map that really outlays, again, the hottest neighborhoods in the city.”
The researchers propose this hands-on involvement as an empowering means for residents to directly influence the future trajectory of their communities.
“If we’re starting to take action, and build our cities to be cooler, I think hopefully we’ll be OK,” Zabow said.
NOAA’s study, scheduled for August 5, is still in need of volunteers from Dallas. The researchers eagerly encourage residents to lend their support to this groundbreaking research. Further information on how one can register for this significant initiative can be found here.