A collaborative effort between Journalists, Community Activists and Scientists to understand the impact of heatwaves on human health and give voice to  the personal stories of affected New Yorkers.

Every year roughly 140 New Yorkers die due to heat related complications. Residents of Harlem, South Bronx and Northern Brooklyn and South Queens area are highly vulnerable to heat related ailments. The risks posed to residents highly increases during heatwave episodes.

As part of the project, custom made temperature and relative humidity sensors were placed inside 40 different households in Harlem that lacked air conditioning units. The sensors were distributed across various buildings and  were located in different floors.

The results reveal that indoor temperature is primarily modulated by  storage heat flux. In stark contrast to ambient air temperature, the indoor temperature remains constant all through the day with little to no diurnal variability. Some houses recorded a steady heat index of close to 90˚F all through the day during the heatwave episodes. The indoor temperatures held steady even post heatwave period. While ambient air temperatures declined following the heatwave events, the indoor temperature remained high. Overall the south-east facing apartments located close to the roof are highly susceptible to extreme heat conditions.

Vant-Hull, B., Ramamurthy, P., et al. “The Harlem Heat Project: a Unique Media/Community Collaboration to Study Indoor Heat Waves” (2018), Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc , 99: 2491-2506