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Groundbreaking News! RGISC Teams Up with National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies to Map Heat Inequities in Laredo!

Published on:  
April 17, 2024

Laredo Selected As one of 14 U.S. Cities to Participate in the Universal Heat Mapping Initiative

RGISC to organize summer campaign to collect heat data Laredo campaign timeframe: July 29-Aug 19

Laredo, TX — This summer, the Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies, will spearhead a pivotal community science initiative to map the hottest areas in Laredo, and begin to address the effects of extreme heat in our border community. 

NOAA oversees the ocean, atmosphere and related ecosystems. This effort, now in its eighth year, is part of a broader campaign to combat the increasing dangers of urban heat islands in 14 U.S. communities and 4 international cities. 

Urban heat islands occur where development results in landscapes that absorb and retain heat, such as buildings, roads, and other areas lacking adequate tree canopy. These areas can experience temperatures up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than their greener counterparts, posing significant health and safety risks during hot weather periods. 

"As climate change accelerates, understanding our most impacted areas becomes crucial," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves in a Tuesday announcement. "This mapping initiative will provide us with the data needed to enhance our city's resilience to heat-related health threats." 

Tricia Cortez, RGISC executive director, said this initiative will provide Laredo with useful planning tools to help local governments, planners, engineers and architects create a more climate-resilient city. 

“This project will generate highly detailed maps that can help Laredo identify areas of greatest need, and prioritize climate strategies and plans to reduce extreme heat, which can be fatal,” Cortez said, noting that 15 heat-related deaths occurred last summer. “We will now have a blueprint to inform and guide decision-makers and residents on the things that we need to help cool our warming South Texas border city.”

To carry out the data collection campaign, RGISC will call on Laredoans to become citizen scientists this summer. 

Edgar Villasenor, RGISC Advocacy Campaign Manager, explained that volunteers will use heat sensors on their own vehicles to gather critical temperature data throughout the city. This data will guide the placement of trees and shade structures, inform outreach efforts, and influence overall urban planning to cool our most vulnerable neighborhoods. 

“If you were born in Laredo, you know it's HOT HOT! As a kid, I remember seeing the heatwaves right outside my house and thinking this was normal. We have an opportunity to work with federal agencies and get the data we need to support our city’s heat problem. We need the community to join this conversation and help us make a change together.” Villasenor said with enthusiasm about the upcoming campaign. 

Participation in this campaign will contribute to local safety, and tie into a global effort to learn from and adapt to extreme heat conditions, ensuring that Laredo remains a livable, thriving community for current and future generations. 

To learn more about how you can get involved or to volunteer, visit rgisc.org.  Join us in making a significant impact right here in our hometown



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the rio grande

A tax-deductible donation on your behalf
will help us to continue this fight.
Our river needs to be protected and you can help!


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1 West End Washington St. Bldg P-11
Laredo, Texas, 78040
Rio Grande International Study Center is a certified 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
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