Heat Island Effect

A car with a sensor attached to it on a street in Southeast Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Volunteers have fanned out in Austin and 12 other U.S. cities this summer to take the temperature of their neighborhoods – literally. The data collection is part of a project to help protect people as the world warms. And, in many places, it is highlighting how already-vulnerable communities suffer the most from climate change and urban heat.

People ride bikes near Auditorium Shores.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This year, as the hottest days of summer clutch Texas in a fiery embrace, a team of volunteers will fan out through Austin neighborhoods to take the temperature of the city.

The endeavor is part of an urban heat mapping project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that aims to present a clearer picture of what parts of town get the hottest and who is most affected.

Bluebonnets and other wildflowers dot the landscape near I-35 earlier this month.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Bats in December. Bluebonnets in January. Butterflies in February. These are a few of the unseasonal appearances Austinites noticed this warm winter. And, experts say, people should get used to such sights.