The NSF-RCN Urban Heat Island Network

Monday, 15 December 2014
Tracy E Twine1, Peter K Snyder1, Patrick Hamilton2, Marshall Shepherd3 and Brian Stone Jr.4, (1)University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, United States, (2)Science Museum of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, United States, (3)The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, United States, (4)Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Atlanta, GA, United States
In much of the world cities are warming at twice the rate of outlying rural areas. The frequency of urban heat waves is projected to increase with climate change through the 21stcentury. Addressing the economic, environmental, and human costs of urban heat islands requires a better understanding of their behavior from many disciplinary perspectives. The goal of this four-year Urban Heat Island Network is to (1) bring together scientists studying the causes and impacts of urban warming, (2) advance multidisciplinary understanding of urban heat islands, (3) examine how they can be ameliorated through engineering and design practices, and (4) share these new insights with a wide array of stakeholders responsible for managing urban warming to reduce their health, economic, and environmental impacts. The Urban Heat Island Network involves atmospheric scientists, engineers, architects, landscape designers, urban planners, public health experts, and education and outreach experts, who will share knowledge, evaluate research directions, and communicate knowledge and research recommendations to the larger research community as well as stakeholders engaged in developing strategies to adapt to and mitigate urban warming.

The first Urban Climate Institute was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota in July 2013 and focused on the characteristics of urban heat islands. Scientists engaged with local practitioners to improve communication pathways surrounding issues of understanding, adapting to, and mitigating urban warming. The second Urban Climate Institute was held in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2014 and focused on urban warming and public health. Scientists discussed the state of the science on urban modeling, heat adaptation, air pollution, and infectious disease. Practitioners informed participants on emergency response methods and protocols related to heat and other extreme weather events. Evaluation experts at the Science Museum of Minnesota have extensively evaluated both Institutes to improve future Institutes and to inform other research coordination networks. Two more Institutes are planned for 2015 and 2016 focusing on urban warming and the built environment, and education and outreach.