Our Chicago: Heat In The City & Possible Impact

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, June 30, 2024
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's no stranger to hot summers, and we now know that climate change is gradually contributing to even hotter days in our area, and across the country

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On July 28, 2023, an army of more than 550 volunteers participated in a citizen scientist project that was led by The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

Heat Watch, was a one-day effort to collect temperatures and data from across all 77 Chicago neighborhoods.

What they found was staggering: A difference of 22 degrees depending on where you lived.

Heat Watch, found difference of 22 degrees depending on where you lived in Chicago.

As we face another potentially hot summer, we're looking at how the city is preparing to protect residents, especially in those vulnerable neighborhoods.

Dr. Geraldine Luna is the Medical Director of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

"It was 140,000 points that they were able to trace to build a map," she said. "Our suspicions were right there. Like that moment, that snapshot because it's not an active thing but it tells us a lot of information of what's going on."

The neighborhoods that were disproportionately affected had more construction, industrial areas, gas emission, quality of air compromise and lack of green area, she said,

What's solutions are being efforted with that information?

"What we're creating now it's a heat vulnerability index," Dr. Luna said. "Which what it means is, not only the exposure but susceptibility of the people in these places like how many over represented by chronic diseases, mobility, if they have easy access to cooling centers, all those taking into account and then comes the plan. Community planning, sitting

down, what are we going to do. How we can better rescue individuals how can we stop the progression of this disproportionate heat in certain areas."

Max Berkelhammer is a climate expert and associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Illinois at Chicago.

"From an urban perspective I think it's important to know that, globally temperatures are rising," he said. "There's consistent evidence to show this is the case and all evidence suggests it will continue at the rate it's going or unfortunately even faster."

He explained how hotter temperatures, lead to a higher demand on air conditioning. Adding on to the trend of more people moving into cities.

Max Berkelhammer is a climate expert and associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Illinois at Chicago.

"What's going to happen is the temperature in cities is likely going to rise faster that global temperatures. So, that threat that we are already experiencing is likely going to accelerate," he said.

There are things everyday people can do to help the climate such as painting roofs white and using lighter colors for pavements and streets.

"Things like embedding glass beads in paint that scatter the light as opposed to absorbing it. Even new types of materials that can reflect the light and also emit radiation back into space so it's not getting absorbed in the atmosphere. Some of these can even be woven into fabrics so individuals can feel cooler, he added.