H-SC takes part in Heat Watch

Published 6:00 am Friday, July 16, 2021

Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) took part in the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges’ (VFIC) and Virginia State University’s heat assessment project, dubbed Heat Watch, on Thurssday, July 15.

The event is led by community scientists with participants from colleges across the commonwealth.

The project involves collecting highly detailed near-surface air temperature data for the purpose of relating land uses — such as asphalt parking lots, community green spaces and topography—to temperatures. Previous iterations of the project revealed temperature differences as large as 16 degrees between the coolest and hottest places at the same time, invigorating local conversations about climate justice and land use policy.

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Hampden-Sydney recruited volunteers from Longwood University, area public schools and Friends of the James. Using specially designed thermal sensors, these “community scientists” went on prescribed routes to record air temperatures and humidity over three specific times on Thursday.

According to a news release from the VFIC, “Data collected from this project will tie into many existing programs and initiatives in Virginia including: public health, energy efficiency, climate change mitigation and resilience, emergency preparedness and management, urban forestry, land use planning, equity and social justice, community partnerships and student engagement.”

“Community science initiatives like this heat mapping campaign have contributed immensely to our understanding of how environmental stressors are not felt equally across communities here in the commonwealth,” Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, chief scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia said. “These insights lead to more informative, community-focused projects with real life resiliency.”