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ArlingtonData in from 2021 Va. heat survey

Data in from 2021 Va. heat survey

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Data from a study of disparities in summertime temperatures within Virginia localities are now available for public review.

The “Heat Watch Campaign” was an effort of the Virginia Federation for Independent Colleges (VFIC), which aimed first to compile raw data based on temperature readings, then determine where differences were and how they could be addressed.

The effort included nearly a dozen Virginia communities, with the measurements spanning 300 square miles.

“Over 200 volunteers took part in the Heat Watch campaign,” noted Matthew Shank, president of the VFIC. “Volunteers used temperature sensors to traverse their study areas on a hot July 15 day by walking or driving at three standardized times of day: morning, afternoon and evening. These data resulted in high-resolution heat-surface maps, revealing temperature variations in our region.”


In Arlington, for instances, readings (taken on July 15) showed disparities of up to 7.5 degrees, depending on location and time of day:

• Morning readings ranged from 59.2 degrees to 75.2 degrees.

• Afternoon readings ranged from 87.8 degrees to 94.8 degrees.

• Evening readings ranged from 83.7 degrees to 91.2 degrees.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highest temperature readings in Arlington were found in urban corridors, which tend to trap heat. Less-dense residential areas generally saw lower temperatures.

(Full data can be found at www.vfic.org.)

Other communities that were studied included Abingdon, Farmville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Petersburg, Richmond, Salem, Virginia Beach and Winchester. The 213 volunteers covered 70 routes and took more than 490,000 temperature readings.

“Colleges and universities that participated in the Heat Watch Campaign have already put the data generated by the project to good use,” said Shank, formerly president of Marymount University. “Students and faculty members have used the data in research projects and presentations. The data have also been used to develop new curricula, as well as implemented in existing labs and lecture classes.”

Results generated by the research are being shared with local governments and community organizations to help these entities better tackle heat-related issues with more effective economic policy. Using data from the project, the Heat Watch group is in the preliminary stages of planning a tree-planting campaign with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

“The data that’s now available will elevate the public’s awareness of the challenges we face and enable us to mitigate the negative impact of heat on urban communities,” Shank said.

CAPA Strategies, Capital One, the Science Museum of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Forestry provided support to the project.

The Virginia Federation for Independent Colleges comprises Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Mary Baldwin University, Marymount University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College, the University of Lynchburg, the University of Richmond, Virginia Union University, Virginia Wesleyan University and Washington and Lee University.

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