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Washington, DC

IG_DC_SkylinePhoto Courtesy of: Kate Johnson, District Department of the Environment

The Challenge

As the capital of the United States, the District of Columbia grapples with human-induced and natural threats ranging from counter-terrorism to hurricanes. The U.S. Global Change Research Program reports that average temperatures are already increasing in the District, along with the frequency of extreme heat, storms, and heavy rain events. Thanks to the urban heat island effect, the District experiences summertime temperatures that are nearly 5° higher on average than surrounding areas. Through collaborations with scientists, the District studied the potential health benefits of reducing the urban heat island and found that strategies like installing cool roofs and pavements, green roofs and shade trees could substantially reduce heat-related mortality. As the first step in developing a citywide climate adaptation plan, the District recently developed downscaled climate change projections for the city. The projections show a significant increase in the number of dangerously hot days and longer and more frequent heatwaves in the coming decades – underscoring the need to address heat and potential impacts to public health.

The District has a robust heat emergency plan that is activated whenever actual temperatures of the heat index reaches 95°F. However, while this solution helps respond to extreme heat events, it does not address how the District could leverage its built environment to help mitigate extreme heat risks over the long-term. Therefore, DC’s Climate Programs Analyst for the District’s Department of the Environment, Kate Johnson, would like additional ideas for what the District can do to substantially address extreme heat the city will continue to face over time. These ideas will help the District move towards sustainable solutions to combat heat extremes, and to incorporate those solutions into their climate adaptation planning.



A Scientific Partner

Kate is looking for one or more scientific partners to present DC with feasible options for how the city can further mitigate extreme heat. In addition to providing substantive options, the scientific partner(s) should be able to provide ways that the city can get started on them.


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Preferred Scientific Skills

• A broad understanding of heat and heat extremes, preferably in the Mid-Atlantic region.
• Skill representing climate science, climate impacts, and sustainability design to city leaders and the public in a variety of settings.
• Ability to operate effectively in environments where science is not the only factor, and often not even the leading factor, in decision making.
• An impressive academic or professional resume.
• Ability to interact well with District’s current and new resilience partners, including local and Federal agencies, such as the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health.
• Ability to develop guides or considerations for heat-resistant building and development.
• Ability to explain things clearly and in every-day language.
• Ability to interact remotely or in-person in Washington, DC.
• Ability to interact well with a diverse group of stakeholders and respect community input and participation.





Apply to be a City-Science Partner

TEX will do an internal review of all candidates and facilitate an initial meeting (usually via phone) between selected candidates and city leaders. After that meeting, the city can decide to move forward with one or more willing candidates.

Find out more

The Partnership



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ICLEI USA – Local Governments for Sustainability and American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) partnered to advance knowledge and practices contributing to climate resilient communities across the United States.


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