Show Me the Heat
This summer, community science volunteers will measure Columbia’s hottest and coolest places during a one-day heat mapping campaign. Learn more about the impacts of urban heat and get involved with the campaign!
Heat Mapping Campaign
Show Me the Heat
No one likes feeling too hot. In fact, high daytime and nighttime temperatures are more than just uncomfortable: they can cause negative health effects and damage public infrastructure. This year, Columbia is tackling urban heat by mapping the places in our community experiencing very high temperatures.
Heat Mapping Campaign
Having local maps of heat and humidity observed and modeled at the street level will help the City of Columbia and its partners to design projects and policies that address heat-related health issues across the city. Our goals for this campaign are to:
- EDUCATE our community about the causes and impacts of urban heat in Columbia.
- COLLABORATE with community members and partners to develop local solutions to urban heat.
- PREPARE Columbia, both socially and physically, for increasing risk and exposure to extreme heat.
- INFORM planners and decision makers on vulnerabilities to guide future development and infrastructure projects.
Our Show Me the Heat campaign is a collaborative effort. Community volunteers will drive data collection and local agencies and community organizations are helping to organize the campaign and ensure the data we collect this summer is used to mitigate urban heat in Columbia.
Follow our progress and stay in touch on Facebook and sign up for our Sustainability Newsletter.
In August, volunteers drove around Columbia collecting data to identify urban heat islands across the city. Once data collection is complete we will send it to CAPA Strategies to be analyzed. We anticipate that the data analysis will be complete by December 2022. In spring 2023, the City of Columbia will host a webinar and in-person presentation to present the data. Following the presentation of the data, the City will host neighborhood workshops in the areas most affected by heat as determined by the heat mapping study. To participate in these meetings stay informed by joining our listserv.
The Impact of Heat
What is Urban Heat?
Urban areas are especially prone to warmer temperatures compared to nearby rural areas because they have more heat absorbing surfaces (e.g. buildings and roads), fewer trees and open space, and more heat-producing activities like car use, building energy use, and industrial activity. This problem, known as the urban heat island effect, can create risks for human health, infrastructure, and quality of life. However, not every location heats up the same. It is important to know where urban heat is the highest, which communities are disproportionately affected by heat, and how different areas heat up/cool down throughout the day.
Climate projections tell us that summers will be longer and hotter. By the end of the century, Missouri could have more than 25 days above 95°F per year - compared to our 5-15 days now - and heat waves could be up to 13°F hotter. Extreme heat in Columbia could more regularly reach temperatures well over 100°F.
With hotter summers in our future, understanding how temperatures vary across our community can inform our actions to reduce the impacts of extreme heat.
The Impact of Heat
How Does Heat Affect Me?
Extreme heat has consequences for our health. While direct exposure can lead to the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses, heat waves are also linked to poor air quality and can exacerbate existing chronic conditions (CDC Climate & Health). On average, heat kills more people than any other weather hazard including flooding (National Weather Service).
Our infrastructure is also challenged by rising temperatures. As homes and businesses use more power to stay cool inside on hot days, the risk of power outages increases as our energy grid is under stress. The concrete in roads, parking lots, and sidewalks can also buckle in the heat, which increases maintenance costs for the City. Water main breaks are more common during a heat wave because the clay soil shifts when it dries, causing pipes to leak or break. That means customer service is interrupted and a boil advisory may be necessary.
The effects of heat do not impact our community evenly. Seniors, unhoused community members, children, and folks working outdoors are especially vulnerable to the dangers of extreme heat. Rising power bills (necessary for keeping our buildings cool) will also burden low-income community members as temperatures rise. Additionally, we know that neighborhoods with more people of color are often hotter than White neighborhoods, due to historical redlining and other unjust policies (Data Driven Lab). Understanding the distribution of heat across Columbia will help the City and our partners provide services such as cooling centers, utility bill assistance, air conditioning giveaways, medical and social services, and green infrastructure to the people that need it most.
Local Heat Resources
- Visit the Boone County Office of Emergency Management heat webpage
- Find Cooling Centers in Columbia
- Swap your old AC for a new, efficient one with the Air Conditioner Exchange Program
- Eligible residents can get a discounted fan with the Summer Fan Program
- Apply for financial support to pay high electric bills
- Explore the interactive map below of local Water Fountains, Spray Parks, and Public Pools
- Sign up for NOAA’s Heat Beat Newsletter
- Read EPA's guide for older adults to stay safe during heat waves
- See the EPA guide for planning for extreme heat
- Dive into the data of rising temperatures in this CDC Guidebook
- NASA Climate Kids - What is an Urban Heat Island?