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Oklahoma City chosen for NOAA's Urban Heat Island mapping campaign

Alan Villegas

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has selected Oklahoma City along with 17 other communities to participate in the 2023 NOAA Urban Heat Island (UHI) mapping campaign.

Pending City Council approval, the campaign will kick off this summer, with volunteer citizen scientists using heat sensors mounted on their cars to map the hottest parts of the city, known as urban heat islands.

"Cities are typically much warmer than nearby rural areas, especially during the summer as cities' roads and buildings gain heat during the day and then radiate the heat into its surrounding air," said NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Sarah Kapnick. "The result is that some areas of cities can be 15 to 20 degrees warmer than areas with more green spaces."  

According to NOAA, extreme heat is the No. 1 weather-related cause of death in the U.S. for the last three decades. Organizers say the data collected from the mapping campaign will help determine where the hottest parts of the city are, and can also be useful for local agencies to target those who are most vulnerable.

NOAA says previous campaigns have yielded positive results, with cities using the heat island data and maps to implement strategies such as tree planting, locating new public transit shelters for cooling relief and developing heat action plans.

NOAA, partners and citizen volunteers have conducted heat island mapping campaigns in more than 60 communities from 2017 to 2022.
NOAA, partners and citizen volunteers have conducted heat island mapping campaigns in more than 60 communities from 2017 to 2022.

Citizens interested in volunteering for the heat mapping campaign in Oklahoma City can contact the Office of Sustainability at sustainability@okc.gov for more information.

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Nyk has worked in radio since 2011 serving as a board operator, on-air announcer and production director for commercial radio stations in Iowa. Originally from the Quad Cities area, Nyk joined KGOU in 2018 as a practicum student studying Creative Media Production at OU. Upon graduating the following year, he became part of KGOU’s staff and is now the local Morning Edition host. When not on the air, Nyk likes to read, listen to music and follow news about the radio industry.
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