Mapping Urban Heat in Charlotte

Charlotte Heat Mappers logo

charlotte heat mappers

Join us to be a part of an international campaign to map urban heat!

About us

The Charlotte Heat Mappers aim to better understand the varying effects of extreme heat across our urban area and to work with local partners to mitigate its impacts on community health and wellbeing.

On Sunday, July 14, more than 50 community science volunteers collected temperature and humidity data over 100 square miles of Charlotte’s urban heat island using mobile sensors mounted on their cars in three shifts: morning, afternoon, and evening.

The car-mounted temperature and humidity sensors used for the July 2024 urban heat island mapping campaign. Photo: NIHHIS.

Why we are excited about mapping urban heat:

  • The Heat Mapping campaign is community science: it is powered by volunteers, and the data gathered will be made publicly available. Data gathered in previous cities’ campaigns has been used to support place-based heat mitigation efforts like tree planting initiatives, establishing cooling centers, developing heat action plans, and educating the public on heat. 
  • Heat is more intense in some places than others. Places with few trees and more heat-trapping materials like asphalt and steel will usually be hotter. This can have negative health outcomes for the people living and working in these areas. While this is a current issue, studies have linked higher temperatures to historical practices like redlining: the practice of preventing Black people from accessing home loans or buying property.
  • Charlotte’s mapping effort is part of an international campaign with communities and cities from across the U.S. and around the world! Learn more here: NOAA Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaigns.

We are part of an international campaign! 2024 cities are in red; past cities are in gray. 

How can I learn more and get involved?

Fill out our interest form! We will reach out with more information: http://bit.ly/CharlotteHeatMappersInterestForm

And follow us on Instagram: @charlotteheatmappers

Have questions? Contact the Charlotte Heat Mappers via email: heatmappers@charlotte.edu

What is an Urban Heat Island?

An Urban Heat Island (UHI) occurs when a city experiences much higher temperatures than nearby rural areas due to a concentration of surfaces and building materials that absorb and hold heat. Learn more at https://climatekids.nasa.gov/heat-islands/

Why is it important to map urban heat?

When combined with conditions such as high humidity, sun exposure, and poor air quality, extreme temperatures can pose serious health risks for individuals, and not all areas and groups are affected equally. To learn more about who faces the greatest risk of heat-related illness, visit https://www.heat.gov/pages/who-is-at-risk-to-extreme-heat

Who are the Charlotte Heat Mappers?

Led by CHARP Affiliate Faculty member Dr. Katherine Idziorek, AICP, the Charlotte Heat Mappers comprise an interdisciplinary team of researchers in UNC Charlotte’s Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences:

Dr. Matthew Eastin (urban meteorology)

Dr. Katherine Idziorek (community resilience)

Dr. Douglas Shoemaker (urban ecology)

Dr. Veronica Westendorff (landscape architecture)

Dr. Michelle Zuñiga (environmental justice)

Joe Wiswell (graduate student researcher)

Adrian Croland (graduate student researcher)

Jimmie Davies (graduate student researcher)

Our partners

The Charlotte Heat Mappers comprise a coalition of community organizations, nonprofits, and government entities across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County as well as state and regional partners:

  • Sustain Charlotte
  • Action NC
  • Sol Nation
  • CharlotteEAST
  • Charlotte Urbanists
  • CleanAIRE NC
  • Charlotte Regional Transportation Coalition
  • TreesCharlotte
  • Schiele Museum of Natural History
  • Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department
  • Mecklenburg County Air Quality Division
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office
  • Mecklenburg County Housing Innovation & Stabilization Services
  • Mecklenburg County Community Support Services
  • City of Charlotte’s Office of Sustainability and Resilience
  • City of Charlotte Landscape Management
  • Charlotte Tree Advisory Commission
  • UNC Charlotte Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences
  • UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
  • UNC Charlotte Office of Emergency Management
  • UNC Charlotte Department of Public Health Sciences
  • Atrium Health/Advocate Health
  • State Climate Office of North Carolina
  • North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • North Carolina Emergency Management
  • North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency
  • National Weather Service Forecast Office
  • Duke Heat Policy Hub
  • U.S. Department of the Interior SE Climate Adaptation Science Center
In the news

WFAE 90.7 As heat broils the city, Charlotte Heat Mappers seeks out the hottest neighborhoods (July 18, 2024)

WSOC-TV9 Mapping out Charlotte’s hot spots to understand the urban heat island effect (July 14, 2024)

The Charlotte Observer Tracking inequality: Charlotte group to survey neighborhoods to find where it’s hottest (July 13, 2024)

The New York Times ‘More Heat, More Often’: Temperature Records Keep Breaking (July 12, 2024)

WFAE 90.7 As sweltering temperatures continue, how to stay healthy and prepare for the future (July 10, 2024)

WSOC TV9 Scientists and volunteers are mapping Charlotte’s hot spots this summer (June 14, 2024)

WCNC UNC Charlotte leads ‘heat mapping’ campaign in Charlotte (May 6, 2024)

Queen City News Study is attempting to find hottest places in Charlotte (May 2, 2024)

The Charlotte Post How hot? Initiative measures, maps extreme temps, risk (April 25, 2024)

Collegiate Standard Charlotte Heat Mappers Lead Initiative To Map Heat Across The City (April 18, 2024)

The Charlotte Observer What are Charlotte’s hottest spots? Survey intends to reveal dangerous ‘heat islands’ (April 16, 2024)

WFAE 90.7 Charlotte selected to join federal study to find urban heat islands (April 16, 2024)

Inside UNC Charlotte UNC Charlotte Researchers to Lead Community Science Heat Mapping Campaign (April 16, 2024)