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Fort Wayne, Ind. – The City of Fort Wayne’s Community Development Division in partnership with the Public Works Division and the Office of Sustainability, has been selected to lead a campaign to map heat and air quality in Fort Wayne. The division will work with NOAA meteorologists and volunteers to give residents a stronger voice in the planning and implementation of climate change-preparedness strategies. Fort Wayne is one of several communities selected to participate in the 2024 NOAA Urban Heat Island (UHI) mapping campaign. 


This summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and CAPA Strategies, LLC, will map the hottest neighborhoods in 14 U.S. communities and 4 international cities including Fort Wayne. Identifying these areas, called urban heat islands, helps communities take action to reduce the health impacts of extreme heat and provides cooling relief for those living in the hottest areas.  

"We are honored to be selected to help lead the Urban Heat Island campaign. Understanding the impacts of rising heat on Fort Wayne residents and neighborhoods is critical to better apply proven solutions to mitigate such issues in the future," said Community Development Division Director Jonathan Leist.

The NOAA Urban Heat Island mapping campaign, now in its eighth year, focuses on addressing extreme heat, which has been the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. for the past three decades. Following the hottest summer on record in 2023, communities worldwide experienced significant impacts on health, infrastructure, agriculture, and more due to rising temperatures. Urban heat islands, characterized by minimal tree cover and increased pavement, can be substantially hotter than surrounding areas. 

Using heat sensors mounted on their own cars, volunteer “citizen scientists,” led by a team of local partners, traverse their neighborhoods in the morning, afternoon, and evening on one of the hottest days of the year. The sensors record temperature, humidity, time, and the volunteers' location every second. CAPA's end-to-end program, including sensor technology, community engagement, analysis, and modeling, allows communities to develop hyper-local descriptions of where the hottest parts of their community are and strategize mitigation options.

"We look forward to working with residents on this project. Mapping heat and air quality around Fort Wayne is a crucial first step for short—and long-term solutions to the dangers posed by extreme heat, and once the data is gathered, collaboration on combating the effects of extreme heat can begin. Ultimately, we want a Fort Wayne that is healthier and more resilient, which I think can be achieved through this program," stated City of Fort Wayne Chief Sustainability Officer Doug Fasick. 

 The cities and counties selected this year have a range of experiences with extreme heat, but each is looking for equitable ways to implement cooling solutions in their communities. During the 2023 urban heat island campaigns, 942 “citizen scientists” took more than one million measurements in 19 U.S. communities. The data from the campaigns are available for open access on HEAT.gov. Many communities have implemented cooling solutions based on the heat maps, including securing federal funding for tree planting initiatives, establishing cooling centers, developing heat action plans, educating the public on heat, and more.  

For more information on Fort Wayne’s summer campaign and to sign up to volunteer, please visit Engage.cityoffortwayne.org/noaa-urban-heat-island-mapping-2024.