HeatWatch Charleston 2021

Volunteers Needed July 31 and August 7, 2021

The City of Charleston is looking for participants to help collect environmental data about the hottest and coolest places in our region during an upcoming heatwave this summer. Data collected by participants during the joint one-day heat mapping campaign will be used to develop temperature and heat maps of Charleston and help address heat-related vulnerabilities across the region.  

What will participants do? Participants are needed to drive along predetermined routes in the Charleston area over three separate one-hour periods (6am-7am; 3pm-4pm; 7pm-8pm). Participants will use a simple data-collection device attached to the vehicle. You can also participate as a navigator and help direct drivers along their route.

Are there any requirements to participate? Anyone 13 years and older who are residents of Charleston are welcome to participate. Drivers will need a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, and access to a vehicle. Those who do not have access to a vehicle can still participate as navigators paired up with drivers, or as observational note takers. In addition to the data collection, participants will first be asked to review a video, complete a knowledge-check, and participate in a short online training session and follow-up discussion.

What is the commitment? Before data collection day, about 1 hour of mandatory online training. On the day of data collection, about 1.5 - 2 hours per shift. For the three shifts it will be a total of 6 hours. You will be asked to drive along a designated route which will take about 1 hour to traverse. The remainder of the time is going to and from locations.

On what day will the heat mapping campaign occur? We are aiming for Saturday July 31. If it is cloudy or rainy that day, we will aim for Saturday August 7th.

If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or would like to learn more, please fill out this Participant Intake Form as soon as possible.

Please email Dr. Janice Barnes (Project Manager for this project) at janice@climateadaptationpartners.com for any questions.

heat watch


The city of Charleston has been selected to participate in HeatWatch, NOAA's National Integrated Heat Health Information System urban heat island mapping campaign.


HeatWatch is a national effort to record the heat index throughout participating cities on a single day, to see how the heat index varies from one area of a city to the next. When one part of a city is much hotter than the surrounding areas, it is referred to as an Urban Heat Island. The data collected during the HeatWatch event will be used to produce detailed maps of the cities’ urban heat islands.

Using heat sensors mounted on their own cars or bikes, community volunteers will traverse their neighborhoods morning, afternoon, and evening on one of the hottest days of the year. The sensors will record temperature, humidity, time, and the volunteers’ location every second.

Why it matters

In 2020, the city of Charleston released an All Hazards Vulnerability and Risk Assessment report, which identified populations and assets throughout the city that are vulnerable to various physical threats. Among the threats identified in the report was extreme heat. 

While the report identifies extreme heat as a pressing public health risk--particularly for low-income and elderly communities living in developed areas with low tree canopy cover--more data is needed in order to understand urban heat and its impacts and the concerns of compound risks associated with extreme heat, humidity and flooding.

How will HeatWatch help?

The HeatWatch event will provide the city better data on urban heat islands and areas of concern, helping to focus efforts to reduce the risk of heat illness in the community to the areas that need it most. This data can then be integrated into city planning decisions and used to engage citizens on extreme heat risks and mitigation strategies in urban areas. By raising awareness of extreme heat risks and by layering data into the city’s GIS system, comprehensive, equitable and multi-benefit solutions will be possible.

Additional Details

In Charleston, this effort is made possible due to the partnership between the city of Charleston; Medical University of South Carolina Arboretum, Institute for Air Quality Studies and Office of Health Promotion; Citadel James B. Near Center for Climate Studies; Charleston Resilience Network; Climate Adaptation Partners; Charleston Medical District; South Carolina Interfaith Power and Light; Carolinas Integrated Science Assessment.