Hot in Here: Nashville’s Urban Heat Island, Impacts, and Mitigation Efforts
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The Summer of 2022 is already the second hottest summer in Nashville on record. And it’s not over yet. Urban areas like Nashville experience a phenomenon known as the Urban Heat Island Effect, which means temperatures are higher in the city than in surrounding rural areas. Vulnerable residents, such as children and the elderly, are at risk for heat illness when temperatures rise. Hot days aren’t just a nuisance. They’re dangerous. While it’s not always talked about, there are more heat-related deaths in the United States than deaths from floods, tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, and blizzards combined. The hottest parts of the city are areas that lack trees and green spaces, which naturally cool us down.
Nashville is one of 14 cities in the US participating in an urban heat mapping campaign this summer. Community scientists from across Nashville will have the opportunity to participate in the campaign to map hot spots across the city by driving pre-determined routes with sensors attached to their cars. The data will show the warmest and coolest spots in our city to help inform heat mitigation efforts by city public health and environmental officials, nonprofits, urban planners, urban foresters, and researchers.
In this episode of River Talks, we are joined by some representatives from the planning committee to talk about urban heat and the campaign.
The Nashville Urban Heat project is a collaboration between middle Tennessee resident volunteers and a number of Nashville area stakeholders! Project partners include the Mayor’s Office, Metro Public Health Department, the Tennessee Climate Office, the Tennessee Department of Health, Vanderbilt University, Middle Tennessee State University, Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Cumberland River Compact, Urban Green Lab, and Adventure Science Center.
Volunteers are still needed to map urban heat!
About our Guests:
- Krissy Hurley, Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service Office in Nashville, TN
- Dr. Kendra Abkowitz, Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer with the Office of Mayor John Cooper and the City of Nashville
- Mekayle Houghton, Executive Director, Cumberland River Compact
- Carol Ziegler, Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and Co-Founder of the Climate, Health, and Energy Equity Lab at the Wondr’y
- Dr. David Padgett, Associate Professor of Geography, Tennessee State University
In this Podcast:
- The science behind Nashville’s hot summer.
- The urban heat island effect in our city and its impact on our already warm climate.
- The impacts of extreme heat on human health, well-being, livelihoods, and communities.
- How climate change will increase extreme heat events in Nashville
- An overview of Nashville’s Urban Heat Mapping Campaign and how you can get involved.
- The importance of mapping data at this fine scale and how it will be used.
- Adaptation and mitigation efforts to address extreme heat now and into the future.
- How to envision a climate resilient future in our cities.
Learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode:
- “Two new studies warn that a hotter world will be a more violent one” (Washington Post, July 2019)
- “Extreme Heat Contributes to Worsening Mental Health, Especially Among Vulnerable Populations” (American Psychiatric Association, June 2021)
- “Throwing Shade: Environmental Injustice and the Urban Tree Canopy (feat. Dr. Jeremy Hoffman)” (Cumberland River Compact)
- “Chicago Learned Climate Lessons from Its Deadly 1995 Heat Wave” (Scientific American, July 2020)
- Nashville Office of Emergency Management Extreme Heat Resources
- Root Nashville
- Urban Heat Youth Fellows Program (Collaboration between Cumberland River Compact and Middle Tennessee State University)
- NIHHIS-CAPA Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign
- Guide to Impacts of Climate Change and Air Quality on Childhood Asthma (Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health)
- Earth Horizons – TSU and VU Partnership to strengthen the pathway for minority students entering into geoscience careers and graduate programs to address these issues
- Alligators in Tennessee (TWRA)
- “Climate and Vector Borne Diseases” (Climate Nexus)
- “The Birds and the Bees” (TED Radio Hour, July 2022)