Albuquerque Releases Heat Impact Data Collected in Collaboration with NASA

Results of NASA’s DEVELOP Summer Program bring awareness to heat disparities across the city

November 30, 2022

The City of Albuquerque and NASA’s DEVELOP team worked together over the summer to further the City’s understanding of the Urban Heat Island Effect, and how implementing cooling interventions such as tree plantings can help ease some of the impacts of extreme heat on our most vulnerable communities. Results of the analysis show that Albuquerque’s distinct geographies make the Urban Heat Island (UHI) of the city unique. Instead of focusing solely on modeling heat mitigation in the hottest areas, the analysis overlays social vulnerability data, targeting immediate heat mitigation to the city’s frontline communities.

The NASA DEVELOP Albuquerque Urban Development team used the InVest Urban Cooling Model and NASA Earth observations to understand the spatial distribution of UHIs within Albuquerque. This allowed the team to model the outcomes of tree canopy interventions, in coordination with the City’s 100,000 tree planting goal as part of the Let’s Plant Albuquerque alliance. The outputs from the model detail temperature decrease and regulation that would result from an increased urban canopy.

“This new research will be used as yet another tool to improve our ability to make data driven management decisions as we constantly strive to be better stewards of our urban tree canopy,” states City Forester Sean O’Neill. “Increasing tree plantings is essential for heat mitigation and advancement across the entire city will take consistent community-wide effort.”

“We’re addressing our frontline community’s health and safety concerns to strategically increase shade and tree canopy and improve Albuquerque’s heat resiliency,” said Sustainability Officer, Kelsey Rader. “As we outlined in the 2021 Climate Action Plan, the time is now to take bold measures to protect our most vulnerable citizens from the impacts of rising heat and climate change.”

The project builds off the 2020 CAPA Heat Watch Campaign and raises awareness among residents about heat risk, incorporates local perspectives, further develops the City’s heat maps, and pursues solutions toward climate resiliency. Full results from the project can be found at www.cabq.gov/sustainability/sustainability-resources.