H3AT 2020 Heat Mapping Campaign

Sprawling urban development and climate change are expected to significantly increase extreme heat in the greater Houston area in the coming years. With summer temperatures routinely reaching triple digits in Harris County, any increase in extreme heat will negatively impact quality of life and public health.

To address these issues, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) partnered with the City of Houston, Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), and The Nature Conservancy to create the Houston Harris Heat Action Team (H3AT). Working with CAPA Strategies, NOAA, the National Weather Service Houston Galveston Office, and community organizations, H3AT launched the largest one-day heat mapping campaign in the nation on Friday, August 7th, 2020. H3AT rallied 84 local citizen scientists to drive routes throughout Harris County collecting temperature and humidity data.

Heat Mapping Data

Temperature data, traditionally available either at the treetop or rooftop level, does not always accurately reflect human exposure. This project provided ground-level data to understand how the built environment influences temperatures felt across different neighborhoods. Ground-level data is important because it more accurately represents what people feel when they are working, playing or exercising outside. CAPA Strategies also applied the data collected to model morning, afternoon and evening temperatures. The data is available at www.H3AT.org.

Integrating Heat Mapping Into Our Initiatives

To strategically mitigate and adapt to climate change, HCPH will incorporate the heat mapping data into the Extreme Heat and Health Vulnerability Assessment. This assessment is a tool that identifies communities that are most vulnerable during extreme heat events. It allows HCPH to prioritize public health interventions, such as community outreach, cooling center placement and nature-based solutions. Additionally, HCPH will incorporate the Heat Maps into other Built Environment Projects, particularly Safe Routes to Schools and Parks where heat exposure influences residents’ ability to engage in active transportation, such as walking or biking or engaging in outdoor activities.

Learn more about the campaign and ongoing H3AT activities.