With hot temperatures flaring across the United States in the coming days – 21 states have extended heat alerts and cities along the East Coast are hitting high temperatures starting Friday – this AdaptNY case study of the Chicago heat wave of 1995 looks at how the urban heat island effect is exacerbated by socio-economic factors and poor city planning. These are concerns not unique to Chicago, but also to places like Harlem, where we are currently running our Harlem Heat Project.
Harlem Heat Project partners stopped by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show on July 8, to discuss the news initiative and to stress that extreme heat is not just an inconvenience, but a serious public health issue that will be worsened by climate change.
“It’s a silent killer,” AdaptNY Editor Adam Glenn said to describe heat waves that take New Yorkers’ lives each year, and send hundreds to the hospital. Continue reading →
The Harlem Heat Project placed its first batch of its heat index sensors in the field on Saturday, when journalists, scientists and Harlem residents serving as citizen scientists gathered at the headquarters of the project’s community partner WE ACT to share insights about the problems of urban heat, and to receive training on how to use the DIY sensors. Continue reading →
This summer, AdaptNY, WNYC and its partners are measuring heat and humidity in un-air-conditioned apartments in Upper Manhattan. It’s not about the weather. It’s about public health.
Harlem is one of the worst places in the city to spend the summer.
Sure, it’s got a few Olympic-sized swimming pools, midnight basketball games and a lively picnicking culture. But consider this:
- Harlem has a high concentration of brick, concrete and asphalt, all of which conspire to trap heat during the day and keep nighttime temperatures high;
- Environmental and social characteristics put Central Harlem onto the city’s list of the top 10 neighborhoods in terms of “Heat Vulnerability;”
- In East Harlem, about a quarter of seniors don’t have air conditioning in their homes, the fifth highest rate in the city;
- Twice as many people from Central Harlem visit the emergency room for heat stress each year compared to the rest of the city, when age and population is controlled.
Those are some of the reasons why this summer, WNYC, along with the AdaptNY news service and the ISeeChange weather journal are joining together to document how hot it gets inside those apartments that aren’t air-conditioned. Continue reading →
AdaptNY has added an important new partner – WNYC Radio – to the roster for its Harlem Heat project, launched in May. Here’s more about the latest development, and new details about the project itself.
A pioneering news initiative this summer will bring together a unique team of non-profit journalism and community partners, including climate news service AdaptNY, to investigate how summer heat affects the health of residents of the Harlem section of Manhattan and explore ways to build community resilience.
The Harlem Heat Project will use heat-and-humidity sensors to capture hard-to-access indoor air conditions with the help of a crew of community-based citizen scientists. These “ambassadors” will also gather updates about residents via a mobile app. Reporters will document the process and the results in multiple installments over the summer.
Collaborating with AdaptNY are New York’s award-winning flagship public radio station WNYC and its health podcast Only Human, and community climate and weather journal ISeeChange. Partners from Harlem include community radio station WHCR-FM90.3, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice, active in Northern Manhattan for nearly 30 years.
Continue reading →
The latest issue of New York Magazine has a well-researched piece that looks at how cities around the world are combatting rising temperatures and cooling themselves off, including with the use of wind, water and urban greenery.
There’s an description of efforts to implement cool roofs in New York City, which reporter Edward Hart says like other metropolises faces triple the number of days over 90 degrees:
In Manhattan alone, there’s up to 40 square miles of rooftop space, making rooftops a huge source of untapped potential in the fight against city heat. The black asphalt on many New York roofs can reach 190 degrees on a summer day. Through the NYC CoolRoofs program, the city has helped reduce the surface temperature on 6 million square feet of scorching asphalt by using lighter-colored coating that reflects more of the sun’s rays and absorbs less heat. The city plans on keeping apace of a million square feet of new roofing each year. By one estimate, this could ultimately cool New York’s air temperature by about two degrees. And these white roofs undoubtedly help lessen the urban-heat-island effect. They have an ancillary benefit too. Because the rooftops absorb less heat, the internal temperatures of buildings can be significantly lower, cutting down air-conditioning bills and reducing carbon emissions.
If you have an interest in how communities like Harlem can best prepare for extreme heat, especially for more vulnerable populations, there was a good listen last week with a White House webinar on the topic (above). The 90-minute program ran May 26 as part of its national Beat the Heat Campaign.
Hot summer days can bring plenty of pleasant associations. But for many at-risk city dwellers, hot weather is a silent killer.
“Urban heat islands” like New York trap heat with concrete and asphalt, and have relatively little vegetation to cool things off. That means more heat-related illnesses and premature deaths, especially among the vulnerable elderly, young children and those with chronic medical conditions.
And the danger worsens as climate change brings a rise in heat waves around the country.
So just how hot is it getting? And how can communities prepares themselves for this new reality? Those are among the questions we’ll explore in depth this summer, when AdaptNY launches a new reporting project to look at the harmful health effects of heat.
New York’s Harlem neighborhood and its at-risk populations are the focus of this latest initiative. We will draw on crowd-sourced data and citizen journalists to find out just how hot is it in Harlem. We’ll investigate how the city and community are responding to the threat. And we’ll capture voices of the community on the problem and possible solutions.
UPDATED (as of July 21): One of the deadliest impacts of climate change is also one of the most overlooked — extreme heat kills more Americans each year than all the other natural disasters combined.
Heatwaves are especially problematic in areas with a lot of concrete and little vegetation to cool things off: Read big cities. And within those cities, it’s the poorer neighborhoods, high in industry and low in air conditioners, that are hit the hardest.
Harlem, in particular, has some of the highest temperatures in the city and is home to the most vulnerable populations. It’s a big problem that gets little attention.
Here’s what you need to know:
UPDATED JULY 19: Review our collection of reports, news coverage, toolkits and datasets for a closer look at how extreme heat affects Harlem.