‘Community Scientist’ Volunteers Needed to Collect Middle Tennessee Heat Data for MTSU Project

Jul 26, 2022 at 11:48 am by Voice Wire

Heat mapping volunteers3 – Middle Tennessee State University faculty Alisa Hass and Adelle Monteblanco took images of campus with a FLIR thermal imaging camera and conventional camera to demonstrate the impact of the environment �� such as grass versus parked cars — on heat. (Photo courtesy of Alisa Hass)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU faculty partnered with the city of Nashville and other local organizations to successfully bid to be one of the 14 U.S. cities participating in a heat mapping study, and the research team needs “community scientist” volunteers to help collect data this August.    

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Heat Mapping Campaign for 2022 is a community-led project that employs local teams to map the climate in areas designated as urban heat islands, which are city environments that can be up to 20 degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas and neighborhoods.  

The resulting heat and humidity map will then be used to identify and help communities manage neighborhoods vulnerable to extreme heat, states an NOAA press release. Cities from past campaigns have used their heat data to develop heat action plans, add cooling stations to bus shelters, educate residents and policymakers and inform new research. 

Those interested are encouraged to sign up immediately through the city of Nashville’s website here https://tinyurl.com/2p9342nb

Community scientist volunteers will receive heat sensors that record temperature, humidity, time and location every second. These sensors will be mounted to volunteers’ cars. Volunteers will use their sensors to collect data on an assigned route and date in August, driving the route once in the morning, afternoon and evening to create one piece in a city climate map.   

Alisa Hass, MTSU assistant geosciences professor, immediately jumped on the opportunity to be part of the campaign.  

“She didn’t miss a beat,” said Adelle Monteblanco, assistant sociology professor and Hass’ research partner. “She knew what important data would come from this project to promote equity and environmental health. We started chatting right away about whom to reach out to in order to assemble a team and who would be the best person to lead.” 

Hass and Monteblanco connected with the Cumberland River Compact; Root Nashville; the Nashville office of the National Weather Service and Kendra Abkowitz, MTSU alumna and chief sustainability and resilience officer for the Nashville Mayor's office who ultimately led the project, to submit a grant proposal earlier this year. 

Unique to this year’s campaign, the project has a focus on environmental justice, an area both Monteblanco and Hass are passionate about.  

“It’s such an important equity issue!” Monteblanco said. “Volunteers will make a real contribution to supporting those in their community at highest risk to extreme heat — the deadliest type of weather event — and toward climate justice, as low-income communities and communities of color tend to be the most affected.” 

To learn more about research opportunities available for students and faculty, visit the university’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs here https://www.mtsu.edu/research/.  

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