About the Urban Climate Institute

NSF Research Coordination Network
Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability

Urban Heat Island Network 

NSF Award # 1231325

Three and a half billion people currently reside in cities with six billion projected to call cities home by 2050.  In much of the world, cities are warming at twice the rate of outlying rural areas and so the frequency of urban heat waves is projected to increase with climate change through the 21st century. Addressing the economic, environmental, and human costs of urban heat islands requires a better understanding of their behavior from many disciplinary perspectives. The goal of this four-year Urban Heat Island Network isto advance multidisciplinary understanding of urban heat islands, examine how they can be ameliorated through engineering and design practices, and share these new insights with a wide array of stakeholders responsible for managing urban warming to reduce their health, economic, and environmental impacts. The Urban Heat Island Network involves atmospheric scientists, engineers, architects, landscape designers, urban planners, public health, and education and outreach experts, who share knowledge, evaluate research directions, and communicate knowledge and research recommendations to the larger research community as well as stakeholders engaged in developing strategies to adapt to and mitigate urban warming. Major activities of the Urban Heat Island Network include holding annual summer institutes in the Twin Cities and Atlanta metropolitan areas to advance the collaborative science of urban heat islands, leveraging existing public outreach assets to engage large public audiences, infusing the work of the Network into the Franklin Institute’s Urban Climate Education Partnership (UCEP), and integrating a team of underserved Twin Cities youth into the Network’s work. Evaluation of Urban Heat Island Network dynamics and activities by Science Museum of Minnesota’s Department of Evaluation and Research in Learning inform future efforts to scale up the network and to implement other research coordination networks.