The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect happens when temperatures in urban areas are higher than in surrounding rural areas, especially at night.
This phenomenon is obviously more severe during the summer, and the heat can therefore become a problem. Both by health state, causing stress to the people which manifests heat strokes, dehydration and other pathologies, and by environmental aspects, as increasing of air pollutants, worsening air quality and it may be also responsible for the grown intensity and frequency of thunderstorms in metropolitan areas compared to rural ones.
The UHI is becoming increasingly significant due to continuous urban development and the construction of buildings in areas that were previously rural or natural. The concrete in roads and buildings absorbs heat more than vegetation and natural soil.
Understanding the dynamics of the urban heat islands therefore becomes a significant challenge for the protection of health and quality of life in cities. Being able to map this phenomenon is fundamental to aware the population and encourage mitigation and precautionary measures. For this reason, scientists carry out research for the definition of predictive models, but not only researchers contribute to the activities for the study of this phenomenon. The role of citizenship in the issues of environmental risks and natural events is extremely essential and at the centre of European policies. Involving the population is the first step towards achieving greater awareness and behavioural change towards more sustainable actions. I-CHANGE project bases its citizen science activities on the participatory contribution in particularly on the collection of environmental data.
Thanks to the installation of meteotrackers, meteo station on the go, on ferries and city buses, the monitoring of environmental parameters, such as temperature, solar radiation, pressure, humidity, is carried out in the metropolitan area of Genoa, one of the project’s living labs headquarters. Through the data collected during the summer season, it is immediately evident, that the heat is concentrated in the centre of the urban area of Genoa and that it gradually decreases towards the outskirts where the temperature difference can reach up to 3 degrees.
The evidence of this data leads to the beginning of awareness-raising work to devise adaptation and mitigation solutions.
To strengthen local commitment, I-CHANGE project also carries out synergies with other European Horizon projects such as AGORA, in which the involvement of the population has a focus more closely linked to adaptation to climate change.