One’s residence should not determine an individual’s health or lifespan. Further, if the environment where someone lives is detrimental to one’s health, that information ought to be shared with him or her. Surface heat exposure poses dangers to human health, and surface temperature is influenced by surrounding environmental factors. Surface temperature and related environmental data should be shared with communities in formats that best meet local needs. It is a matter of environmental and health justice. On July 15, 2021, a team of citizen scientists united under the Virginia Heat Watch project to collect surface temperature data in ten localities across Virginia. The current study aims to meet the communication, engagement, and analysis goals of the Virginia Heat Watch project through a community-based approach. Using Richmond, Virginia as a case study, web maps and communication methods were piloted before being presented to other localities. Four public web maps were created across the studied localities of Abingdon, Arlington, Petersburg, and Richmond, Virginia. Through computations of Pearson’s r values, it was found that in Arlington and Richmond, tree canopy is negatively correlated with temperature and impervious surfaces are positively correlated with temperature. Regarding social variables in Arlington, temperature was positively correlated with the white percentage of the population and negatively related to median household income. In Richmond, however, temperature was negatively related to the white percentage of the population and positively related to median household income. These discrepancies between localities and their divergence from the expectations imposed by previous literature suggest that further research should be done. This study makes an important contribution to the work of the Virginia Heat Watch Project by displaying and analyzing their findings and communicating the findings of the current study based on locality needs. Future work should expand the mapping and communication of Heat Watch data to all ten Heat Watch localities.

Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar/Geography Capstone.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Todd Lookingbill.

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