How can you make heat visible this summer?

In many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, hot temperatures have already arrived or they are right around the corner. Whenever you start to feel the heat, increasingly severe and prolonged heatwaves are a common side-effect of climate change for everyone around the world.

But just because heat is something we all experience, doesn’t mean we all experience it equally. Vulnerable people who lack access to secure housing are particularly at risk. And research shows that red-lined neighborhoods in the U.S. are hotter than their counterparts.

ISeeChangers have been documenting heat and its impacts since 2012, but tracking heat can be tricky as it is often perceived as invisible. That’s why, this spring, we’re challenging you to think about all of the ways that heat is changing in your area and how it is impacting you and your loved ones.

Here are some ways that ISeeChangers have documented heat in the past, try them out in your area, and then get creative: Show us something we’ve never seen before!

When does your area hit 80°F (26.7°C) for the first time?

Are hot days arriving earlier than in the past as the climate warms? Let us know when you get your first day over 80°F (you can back-post if it’s already happened!), and we’ll help you find historical data to compare it to.

First 80°F day of the year.

Sam Harrington

How does the heat make you feel physically?

Hot days can be dangerous if you’re working or exercising outside. Hot nights can be even more dangerous as they prevent your body from cooling down. Humidity can also make the physiological effects of heat more dangerous too, so be sure to tell us in your post if it seems humid.

I don’t have a picture to go with this, but; today has a “feels like” of 97 degrees, which is actually a welcome break from some of the “feels like” 110+ degree days last week. Still, I wanted to take my bike to the repair shop but when it’s over 95, it makes it hard to want to do anything outside. My bedroom is well enough insulated and shaded that on most summer nights, it actually feels genuinely cool bordering on cold (like, I use a comforter). But when it’s 100+ degrees outside, it becomes pretty uncomfortable even in here. Likewise, my car’s A/C can’t keep up with the heat, so almost never drive anywhere (which is probably good, since I want to cut down on driving anyway). Last week, I made the mistake of going for a run at 9 pm, 30 mins after sunset, on one of the hotter days. I ended up giving myself heat exhaustion; only realized afterward that it was still “feels like” 100 degrees out at that point.

Aidan Lilienfeld

How does heat make you feel mentally?

Heatwaves can make people feel irritable, and have trouble sleeping and focusing. Do you find yourself distracted or short-tempered when it gets hot?

To practice piano as efficiently as possible, I have highly-focused practice sessions for a few minutes at a time until I have trouble concentrating. It appears that before the heat wave, I was having longer periods of practice and more of them. Here’s the data: Tuesday, 7/16: 45 + 11 + 5 + 10 + 6 + 10 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 9 + 3 + 5 = 114 minutes Wednesday, 7/17: 11 + 9 + 15 + 10 + 11 + 2 + 7 + 1 + 15 + 5 + 3 + 7 + 21 + 10 + 7 + 15 + 3 + 15 = 167 minutes Thursday, 7/18: 10 + 27 + 6 + 2 + 8 + 15 + 24 + 15 + 5 + 13 = 125 minutes Friday, 7/19: 10 + 7 + 5 + 9 = 31 minutes Saturday, 7/20: 13 + 7 + 8 + 7 + 6 = 41 minutes Sunday, 7/21: 13 + 13 + 5 = 31 minutes

Matylda Biskupski

How do you stay cool?

Some people seek out pools and sprinklers, others turn to fans and other indoor hacks. Share your coping mechanisms with the community!

It is HOT today! Unusual for my location to get this warm. Air conditioning is virtually nonexistent in private homes unlike in the United States where practically everyone has one and runs it as soon as it gets a bit warm. Luckily, we have these window coverings called ‘rolladen’ that really help to block out the heat. They took awhile to get used to so we used them most effectively but I think we’ve got it down. Nearly 100° F outside but still in the 70s in our home!

Christina Clevenger

What would help your neighborhood cool down?

Could your street use some more shade trees? How accessible are cooling centers? Do laws exist to protect renters if their living spaces are unsafe? What other ideas do you have for how to keep your community cool?

Cambridge DPW worker watering new tree in Central Square in a hot day. Tree will provide valuable shade as it matures.

John Bolduc

No sighting is too small. Anything you see may provide a clue to how your local climate and environment are changing, so post it!