Portland using 'heat island' map as tool to combat scorching tem - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland using 'heat island' map as tool to combat scorching temps

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Where you live in the metro area and your economic status could have an impact on the heat you feel this week.

In 2015 researchers at Portland State University released the results from an ongoing study that looked at where heat energy is stored across the metro area. They found across Portland there are “heat islands” or pockets where temperatures stay warmer than the surrounding areas across Portland.

Over the last few years, that data has helped the city of Portland to try and cool things down.

“The city has been taking the work we have been doing pretty seriously in terms of how do we design our cities differently to better deal with these heat waves,” researcher Vivek Shandas said.

Shandas says further study of their map showed that “heat islands” tend to be in lower income areas.

He said part of his research has been how can that be changed by using limited resourced to do so.

“How is it that the city can prioritize investments to reduce temperatures when they are undergoing some major changes,” Vivek said.

The city of Portland has taken notice of his work. Portland’s Environmental Services Department is using the map to plant trees in lower income areas and places where there is little foliage.

Near 82nd and Powell Boulevard, Peter Coa showed off a small tree that was recently planted outside his business.

“This is a tree from the city,” Coa said with pride. “We appreciate it a lot.”

The city planted two trees around his business, Artico Light, a neon shop that is in a heat island.

“We picked a medium tree so it doesn’t grow so big but it will have a nice shade and have a good look," Coa said. 

The trees may not look very mighty now, but in a few years they’ll have a big impact in cooling things down.

“It's pretty amazing to have the work be directly relevant to people who are making decisions,” Vivek said.

With extreme heat hitting Portland this week, the city is reminding those who have young trees to make sure they are getting plenty of water over the next few days.

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