Participate in community heat mapping this summer!

April 20, 2022

Feeling the heat in Montgomery County? Take action by participating in community heat mapping this summer!

This summer, Montgomery County is doing a community heat-mapping project that will bring together local organizations and volunteers to produce heat maps and generate creative and collaborative solutions for extreme heat in our area. Montgomery County will be one of 16 jurisdictions globally that will collaborate with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and community scientists to map heat inequities.

Urban Heat Islands are areas that can be up to 20 degrees hotter than nearby neighborhoods due to buildings, pavement, and other parts of urban environments amplifying high temperatures.

Extreme heat kills more Americans than any other weather event, but not everyone’s risk is the same. Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by extreme heat, and these local maps will help us identify where we can take action to protect vulnerable neighborhoods both now and in the future.

Urban Heat Island Mapping Volunteer Registration

Where do you feel the heat?

Which areas in the community do you feel are important with respect to heat, such as parks, bus stops, and schools? What are some areas where you recognize the heat difference in the county, for example, parking lots or streets you avoid? Mark them on the map below.

Click the plus symbol on the map below to add your location pin to the map. Click on an existing pin on the map below and press the “thumbs up” button to indicate you agree it is a location of concern. You can add areas by name (for example, Beall Elementary School) or by dragging a pin to a point on the map to highlight an unnamed parking lot, bus stop, or intersection.

Made with Padlet


Become a Street Scientist:

  • Montgomery County is seeking volunteer street scientists to collect data about our region’s hottest and coolest places during an upcoming heatwave this summer.
  • During the one-day heat mapping campaign, data collected by volunteers will be used to develop temperature and heat index maps of the region (see Seattle example) and help address heat-related vulnerabilities across the region. 
  • On a designated day in early August, you’ll collect thousands of temperatures and
    humidity measurements over three one-hour periods as a driver or navigator in your neighborhood
  • Information on participant stipends and reimbursement will be discussed further with volunteers.

What will street scientists do?

Volunteers are needed to drive along predetermined routes in your area over three separate one-hour periods during a hot day 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. 

Who is eligible to volunteer?

Anyone is eligible to sign up below to help in the project as there are multiple roles needed from driver, navigator, and neighborhood organizer. Drivers will need a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, and access to a vehicle. 

What is the role of a neighborhood organizer?

The volunteer role of a neighborhood organizer is someone that will engage their hyper-local community to understand and participate in the mapping project. The role is flexible and a great opportunity to engage if you aren’t available to be a driver or would like to be more involved in the project. 

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 Montgomery County is a weekend in the first two weeks of August. While weather changes, The county will confirm this selected campaign date a few weeks prior as forecasts become more reliable. 


Please note that signing up does not commit you to the project; instead, the process will begin by building out a roster of potential volunteers and will reach out to you to discuss your participation. 


Fill out my online form.

15 comments on "Participate in community heat mapping this summer!"

  1. N. P. says:

    I signed my grandson up to work on this as a sSTEM community project. I will support all efforts of his participation.

    1. laurasivels says:

      Thank you for your interest and participation!

  2. James D Werner says:

    Is it possible to participate using bicycle so we don’t contribute to GHG emissions while trying study their effects? There is a whiff of irony in the air about this project.

    1. Mike G Alonzo says:

      I have a setup like the one used here parked in Silver Spring. Happy to let people ride. It doesn’t collect humidity though.

    2. laurasivels says:

      James, I understand the concern and we will work diligently to mitigate the impact of this data collection initiative. We did inquire about using bicycles and it was our intention to collect as much data via bicycle, but the data collection team at NOAA and CAPA strategies let us know that the bicycle data would not be reliable for our purposes. We will be working hard with volunteers to use electric vehicles to collect the data as much as possible and we will only need 20 vehicles on the road to collect the data.

      Thank you for expressing your concern and I would be happy to chat further about it.
      Laura Sivels, Climate Engagement Program Manager

  3. Kit Gage says:

    Preferable if possible for people to use electric vehicles (or as noted, bicycles) to do the collecting.

    1. laurasivels says:

      Thanks for your comment Kit. We have talked in-depth with the data collection team at NOAA and CAPA Strategies and unfortunately the data collected by bicycles would not be reliable for our purposes. We will be working with volunteers to use electric vehicles for the whole initiative if possible.

  4. Teresa Buescher says:

    I volunteered to be a driver . I have a Tesla

  5. Will you/ we be checking for the truly hottest surfaces around – synthetic plastic and rubber (as synthetic turf aka fake grass) sports fields and rubber surfaced playgrounds at schools and parks? They are hotter than asphalt, as a local news team set out a few summers ago looking for the hottest place in the county in a heat wave- they found a rubber park playground to be the very hottest with a surface temperature upwards of 170 deg F.

  6. Roy Faiman says:

    Aren’t urban heat sinks and islands also visible to remote sensing satellites measuring surface temperature longitudinally?

  7. Jennifer Moore says:

    Can high school student 15 year and up, if so will they be able to gain SSL hours? Does NOAA offers internships in technology for the summer

  8. Alemayehu says:

    I am confident that MC will achieve this mapping job. There are plots those can be identified as heat islands.
    Do we report those plots in order to include them in the mapping process?

  9. Tiffany Novak says:

    Are SSL hours available to rising middle schoolers if they participate with a volunteer parent?

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