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Heat-mapping study found major temperature swings within Virginia localities

A first-of-its-kind study looked at disparities in temperature in communities across Virginia.
A first-of-its-kind study looked at disparities in temperature in communities across Virginia.(WAFB)
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 12:23 PM EDT
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A report by a group that represents Virginia’s independent colleges and universities demonstrates how much hotter paved-over areas lacking green spaces can be than places with tree cover and other cooling features.

The heat-mapping effort, which the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges called the largest study of its kind, aims to give local governments the data they need to “tackle heat-related issues” with policy, such as tree-planting campaigns, as communities plan for climate change, a news release says. The report showed differences in temperature as big as 10 degrees in different parts of the 10 Virginia cities participating in the study. Although the data confirmed a long-held understanding that wide streets and paved-over parking lots can increase the temperature of an area, Jeremy Hoffman, chief scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia, said the level of detail captured in the study helped illustrate the impact of climate change to a wider audience.

“Climate change is sometimes presented as a very far away phenomenon like it’s not happening here, and far away in time like it’s not happening right now,” Hoffman said.

Over 200 volunteers took 490,423 measurements in the summer of 2021 along designated routes at different times of the day to gather temperature variations in Abingdon, Arlington, Farmville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Petersburg, Richmond, Salem, Virginia Beach, and Winchester. The number of volunteers participating in the data collection made what would have been a long and arduous process manageable, said Todd Lookingbill, the chair of the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Richmond.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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