Dallas, Texas – In an innovative initiative aimed at reducing the deleterious effects of escalating urban temperatures, the city of Dallas has for the first time joined forces with a federal government initiative to create a comprehensive urban heat island map. This collaboration seeks to empower the city with robust data and predictive tools, necessary for mitigating the burgeoning menace of heat in future decades.
For further insight into the program specifics and for the enthusiastic volunteers eager to contribute to this initiative, please visit this link.
“Extreme heat kills more people in the U.S. than any other weather event. Part of the goal is to realize a more resilient and sustainable city,” Dallas Environmental Quality Director Carlos Evans said.
Trees and shades are extremely important in cities like Dallas in beating the extreme heat
Elevated temperatures impose a particularly harsh toll on areas with hardened surfaces devoid of the calming, shade-offering embrace of trees. These scorching hotspots, characterized by experts as ‘Heat Islands’, are sprawled across the city’s landscape with varying intensities.
“The city is experiencing more extreme heat events. We know these events are even more severe in certain areas,” Evans said.
This year witnesses the city of Dallas rallying alongside the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and 18 other communities to orchestrate an extensive on-ground data collection effort. This endeavor seeks to construct a detailed heatmap depicting the areas bearing the maximum risk during heatwaves.
The City of Dallas is seeking 100 volunteers to place a monitoring device on their cars for urban heat island mapping
To achieve this ambitious goal, the city is on the lookout for 100 volunteers to affix a monitoring device on their vehicles. This human-enabled network of data collectors will traverse a third of the city during three distinct periods: morning, midday, and evening. Assisting the city in this scientific pursuit is an external organization entrusted with the task of assimilating and mapping this critical data.
Dallas’ previous endeavors to map heat islands relied heavily on satellite data, commented city officials.
“I think it’s a good and valuable study. It’s a really good opportunity for people who want to participate and do something about climate change,” said Kevin Overton, a senior coordinator with the Dallas Environmental Quality Department.
Dallas non-profit is already working in reducing the extreme heat effects with planting trees
In parallel, the Texas Trees Foundation, a local non-profit, is leveraging existing data to mitigate heat impact by introducing more trees into Dallas’s urban landscape. One such initiative, led at Foster Elementary School in North Dallas, saw the planting of numerous trees.
Rachel McGregor, Urban Forestry Manager at the Texas Trees Foundation, emphasized that school premises in Dallas are significantly bereft of trees and hence, are a high-priority focus for their efforts.
“It’s to help cool the campus so kids can play outside, and be able to have recess, a more shaded environment, but it also helps with air quality on school campuses,” McGregor said.
She further expounded on the potential for school property trees to serve dual purposes – functioning as community parks post school hours and contributing to community well-being in myriad ways.
“The benefits we see for air quality and water quality are increased in those areas, health benefits for people with higher rates of asthma,” McGregor said
Sleepy Hollow Park, situated in the traditionally African American Arlington Park neighborhood near Stemmons Freeway, serves as a testament to Dallas officials’ commitment to equity. The recent plantation of new trees and installation of playground equipment in this area underscores this resolve.
“Historically disadvantaged communities have more pavement than other areas and have fewer trees,” Evans said.
This mapping project serves as a vital cog in the wheel of the Dallas Climate Action Plan. Additionally, the city also champions an annual initiative known as “Branch Out Dallas,” wherein 2,500 hardwood trees are distributed to residents for planting, further solidifying its commitment to creating a more resilient, sustainable urban environment.