Solicita ahora para formar parte de nuestra próxima grupo de Becados en Ciencia  científicos comunitarios y líderes comunitarios.

Identificar oportunidades para soluciones de calor urbano natural

Madison, Wisconsin

Featured image for the project, Identifying Opportunities for Natural Urban Heat Solutions

Climate change is impacting Wisconsin by raising average summer temperatures and increasing the likelihood of extreme heat events, especially in urban areas. To counteract this impact, the City of Madison wants to identify the best green infrastructure solutions for mitigating urban heat islands and reducing the impacts of rising temperatures on people and infrastructure. We are looking to develop strategies to cool the city and keep community members safe during times of extreme heat.


Acerca de la Comunidad

Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. Located on an isthmus and lands surrounding four lakes—Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Kegonsa and Lake Waubesa—the city is home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the Wisconsin State Capitol, and other significant cultural sites. In addition, Madison is home to an extensive network of parks and bike trails; it has the most playgrounds per capita of any of the 100 largest U.S. cities. A leader in climate action, the City of Madison has a Climate Forward agenda that lays out commitments over the next two years to combat climate change through reducing emissions, improving our resilience, and supporting green job creation in Madison.

The city also knows that the risks and impacts of climate change are not equally or fairly distributed across people and communities. People of color, people with disabilities and certain health conditions, and people from low-income backgrounds are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Our climate work focuses on ensuring that all people have access and opportunity to benefit from climate solutions while not bearing an unequal burden of the impacts of climate change.  Today, 25% of Madison residents are people of color, while 55% of Madison’s 27,000 public school students are children of color.  These youth and their parents, who before 2040 will comprise the majority of our population, do not have equal access to the opportunities our city has to offer. Our climate work focuses on ensuring that all people have access and opportunity to benefit from climate solutions while not bearing an unequal burden of the impacts of climate change.

About the Problem

Wisconsin’s climate models predict warmer and wetter winters, more frequent and extreme rainfall events, and hotter summers, including prolonged heat waves. Increasingly, the City of Madison is impacted by these changes, particularly intense summer heat, which disproportionately affect people with low-income, BIPOC communities, and other vulnerable members of the Madison community.

Wisconsin’s annual average temperature has risen by 3 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1950’s and is likely to increase an additional 2 – 8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 according to updated climate projections from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. By 2050, extreme heat days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit will likely triple, and the number of hot nights when the temperature does not drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit will likely quadruple.

Extreme heat is the leading weather-related cause of death in the US. Health risks include increased breathing problems, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. In fact, heat waves kill more people in the US than any other weather event. And extreme heat poses a bigger risk to public health in places with cooler climates like Wisconsin, because these events have been infrequent in the past.

In June 2022, the City of Madison and surrounding areas experienced a three-day heat wave, with temperatures and humidity climbing to dangerous levels. During this extreme heat event, a fast moving storm system moved through the area, causing significant damage to trees, homes, and infrastructure. Some residents were without power for more than three days, exacerbating the challenges posed by high temperatures.

And while climate change is increasing temperatures for everyone, some areas are hotter than others. Cities tend to be hotter than more suburban or rural areas. Buildings, concrete, steel, and other development absorb and hold on to heat longer than open green spaces, raising temperatures and making them difficult to cool.

These urban heat islands – where buildings, concrete, and other development are significantly warmer than surrounding areas – exacerbate the impacts of heat waves. The City is currently collaborating with researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison to map urban heat islands in the city, and the next step is to develop strategies to cool the city and keep community members safe during times of extreme heat.

The City of Madison is also a partner in the Wisconsin Heat Health Network which seeks to build awareness among Madison and Milwaukee area stakeholders about heat impacts and climate change.

Sobre el proyecto

The City of Madison seeks to identify potential solutions for mitigating urban heat island and reducing the impacts of rising temperatures on people and infrastructure. The goal of this project is to better understand the potential for green infrastructure solutions to lower surface and perceived temperatures in the City. In particular, we are interested in learning what types of green infrastructure that provide cooling benefits are a good fit for Madison (with a particular interest in green infrastructure solutions that provide multiple benefits) and mapping suitable locations for these green infrastructure solutions in the city to understand the potential extent and impact they could have in mitigating heat.

Ideally, we can work with a scientist who understands the geographical and ecological context of the Midwest in general and in Wisconsin in particular, who has familiarity with green infrastructure for providing ecosystem services in urban settings (especially heat and stormwater mitigation), and who has experience with spatial analysis or modeling in R.

Calendario e hitos

The expected timeline for this project is 6-8 months, ending by May of 2022.

Equipo del proyecto

Líderes comunitarios

Price Headshot

Dr. Jessica Price is Sustainability and Resilience Manager for the City of Madison, where she works to develop and implement policies, programs, and strategies that advance climate resilience, sustainability, and environmental justice. Top priorities include climate action to meet Madison’s ambitious climate and energy goals; investments in equitable, no- and low-carbon transportation and city fleet vehicles; and improving the energy efficiency of affordable housing and commercial buildings.​ Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Jessica served as Renewable Energy Strategy Lead for the Nature Conservancy in New York. Jessica has a PhD in Landscape Ecology and an MS in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Caroline Burger is the Program Manager for the City of Madison’s Watershed Study Program.  The Program identifies the causes of flooding across the City and then develops solutions to mitigate the flooding.  Prior to joining the City of Madison, Caroline worked as a consultant for 18 years.  During that time she became an expert in urban water quality and flood modeling.  Caroline is proficient in stormwater management practice design and stormwater utility development.  Caroline has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree in Construction Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Caroline is also a partner in PVA, the small firm that develops the urban water quality model WinSLAMM.

Bryan Johnson is the Recycling Coordinator and Public Information officer for the City of Madison Streets Division.

Becario científico comunitario

Caitlin Embley headshot

Caitlin Embly is a current graduate student at Virginia Tech University, where she is studying natural resources. Before moving to Madison, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia; her work there focused on promoting sustainable agriculture and agroforestry practices. Her undergraduate studies were in chemistry and bioethics.

Se busca científico

The City of Madison is looking for a scientific partner who can help us understand the potential for green infrastructure solutions to mitigate urban heat island in Madison, what solutions are available to us, where they could be deployed throughout the city, and the multiple benefits they could provide.

Desired skills and expertise

  • Understands green infrastructure (green roofs, rooftop gardens, rain gardens, bioinfiltration basions, etc.) and has a broad knowledge of their potential for mitigating climate impacts.
  • Experience performing spatial analysis
  • Familiarity with the Midwest’s climate, ecology, and geology and the unique challenges and opportunities found here
  • Understanding of the link between climate change and extreme heat events
  • Ability to synthesize research regarding green infrastructure solutions and impacts to urban heat islands.
  • Strong listening and communication skills
  • Experience translating scientific analysis into policy

Thriving Earth Exchange pide a todos los socios científicos que trabajen con la comunidad para ayudar a definir un proyecto con impacto local concreto al que puedan contribuir como voluntarios y colaboradores pro-bono. Este trabajo también puede posicionar a los científicos y las comunidades para buscar financiación adicional, juntos, para la siguiente fase.

¿Le interesa trabajar como científico voluntario? ¡Inscríbete ya!