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Knoxville Heat Mapping Campaign

This summer, University of Tennessee researchers will team up with community members to map what are called urban heat islands, areas that can be up to 20 degrees hotter than nearby rural areas, and collect the data necessary to protect disproportionately affected communities. This city-wide heat mapping campaign will involve volunteer citizen scientists to map areas in Knoxville where excessive heat may occur, using specifically-designed heat sensors mounted on their own cars and drive through their neighborhoods in the morning, afternoon and evening on an appointed day in late August, 2022.

Knoxville was one of 14 U.S. cities chosen to participate in the 2022 Heat Mapping Campaign supported by the NOAA Climate Program Office and CAPA Strategies LLC. Cities from past campaigns have used their heat island maps to develop heat action plans, add cooling stations to bus shelters, educate residents and policymakers and inform new research.

Why map heat inequities in Knoxville?

In many cities across the U.S., the hottest areas tend to be the poorest and disproportionately communities of color. This project will document how urban heat intersects with inequalities, including, racial discrimination, income, infrastructure and housing, energy burden, transportation, and health care access. The data from the campaign will provide greater public awareness into heat and climate risks in Knoxville and will provide essential information to develop policies and practices that mitigate heat islands and address inequitable distribution of urban heat risk.

Become a volunteer street scientist!

What will volunteers do?

Volunteers are needed to drive along predetermined routes across Knoxville over three separate one-hour periods during an appointed day in late August, in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Volunteers will use a simple data-collection device attached to the vehicle to measure surrounding temperature and humidity. You can also volunteer as a navigator and help direct drivers’ turns along their route. 

Are there any requirements to volunteer?

Drivers will need a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, and access to a vehicle. In addition to the three hours of data collection, volunteers will first be asked to attend a one-hour Volunteer Training Session, complete a short knowledge quiz, and sign a liability waiver. Based on previous campaigns, volunteers will spend a total of about 4 to 6 hours, though the majority of time (~3.5 hours) will occur on the selected campaign day.

On what day will the heat mapping campaign occur?

That will depend on the weather forecast. Heat mapping is best done on a hot temperature and clear-skied day. Using historical weather patterns and support from the National Weather Service, the target campaign date for Knoxville is a weekend in late August, 2022. While weather changes, we will confirm this selected campaign date a few weeks prior as forecasts become more reliable. 

Because we must wait for the heat—we need to assemble an “on-call” roster of volunteers — which means that we’ll want more people signing up than we need. We will confirm your participation about one week prior to the campaign once we finalize the date. Please note that signing up does not commit you to the project, rather the process will begin by building out a roster of potential volunteers, and confirmation will occur about one to two weeks in advance. 

Volunteer Registration

If you are interested in participating as a volunteer, please respond to this Volunteer Intake Form below. Information on participant stipends and gas reimbursement will be discussed further with volunteers.

We have reached enough volunteers! Thank you to all our volunteers!