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Extreme Heat

Impacts of Extreme Heat

As temperatures in New York continue to rise due to climate change, the frequency and severity of extreme heat events, like heat waves, will increase. This continued warming will have a wide range of impacts on many different sectors throughout the state. An increase in extreme heat events can stress crops and livestock, reducing food production and impacting rural communities whose economies depend on agriculture. Extreme heat is also increasing the demand for air conditioning, placing strain on the electric grid and resulting in more power outages. Climate change is causing longer and more frequent heatwaves, resulting in more severe impacts of heat on human health.

graph of new York city heat stress in 2021
In 2020, New York City experienced 7 more days with a heat index over 90°F
compared to 1979. The heat index combines relative humidity and air
temperature to represent what the temperature feels like to the human
body. A heat index of 90°F or higher can have dangerous effects
on the body such as heat stroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion
possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.

Extreme heat will have a larger effect on urban areas through an intensifying heat island effect. Communities already impacted by heat islands will likely bear the brunt of increasing heat waves and the associated harmful health and environmental effects. Extreme heat and heat islands can pose serious health threats to humans, especially vulnerable populations (leaves DEC website), such as children, the elderly, low-income households, people with pre-existing health conditions, those who work outdoors, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations. As climate change increases the length and frequency of heat waves, the risk for heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion will become greater for all residents, particularly those living in heat islands, and especially vulnerable populations.

Communities can take action to protect residents and resources by improving resilience to extreme heat and mitigating heat islands. Establishing early warning systems for anticipated heatwaves, raising awareness about the risk factors and symptoms of heat-related illness and when and how to seek treatment, and providing residents with cooling centers to go to are only a few ways communities can become more resilient to extreme heat. Increasing tree canopy and vegetation cover by promoting parks and open spaces, can help reduce the impacts of extreme heat.

Ensuring equitable distribution and accessibility of extreme heat-related information and resources to all members of the community is essential to protecting residents, especially those who are most vulnerable. This could include actions such as providing heat warnings and safety information in multiple languages.

Mapping Urban Heat Islands Request for Information (RFI)

The response period for this RFI is now closed.

In November 2022, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a Request for Information (RFI) on possible approaches, methods, and datasets for mapping urban heat islands (UHI) in New York State. DEC issued this RFI to determine the approaches, methods, and datasets available for mapping UHIs, or if these approaches, methods, and datasets could be developed.

The RFI was issued solely for DEC's information and planning purposes and was not a request for proposals (RFP). Under this RFI, DEC did not seek proposals for funding projects and does not accept unsolicited proposals.

Extreme Heat Action Plan

In her 2022 State of the State address, Governor Hochul directed the DEC and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to develop an extreme heat action plan (EHAP) in response to more frequent and intense extreme heat events driven by climate change.

The Extreme Heat Action Plan Work Group, comprised of 70 agency experts and staff, representing 22 agencies, will deliver a first-of-its-kind comprehensive State plan for addressing present and future extreme heat by:

  • developing an extreme heat adaptation plan to address the structural drivers of extreme heat and heat inequities;
  • establishing a comprehensive State response to extreme heat emergencies as part of the State Comprehensive Emergency Response Plan;
  • directing and coordinating investments to benefit disadvantaged communities by creating a comprehensive inventory of State programs, initiatives and services, and analyzing how these programs benefit heat-vulnerable disadvantaged communities; and
  • expediting and implementing immediate action for this summer to scale existing efforts to address the most acute extreme heat-related impacts and needs.

The EHAP Work Group has released a report of interim recommendations (PDF) that includes actions for immediate implementation to help prepare communities for a heat emergency and address acute heat-related impacts and needs in 2022.

EHAP Work Group Interim Recommendations in Six Opportunity Areas
Category Recommendations
Planning P1. Initiate process to develop heat adaptation plan by January 1, 2024.​

P2. Initiate process to develop a heat hazard annex to the State's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan by June 1, 2023.​

P3. Fund development and implementation of actions.
Coordination C1. Convene heat emergency coordination team. ​

C2. Leverage existing touchpoints with the public to perform heat health checks and/or enhance public outreach.

C3. Convene an EHAPWG team to coordinate extreme heat-related outreach and communications.
Public Cool Spaces PC1. Expand availability of cooling centers and shelters.​

PC2. Promote use and visibility of cool spaces and expand outreach.​

PC3. Extend access to State parks, swimming areas, recreational lands and other State facilities that provide relief from extreme heat.
Heat Health Warning Systems and Protocols H1. Improve alert system for extreme heat and/or humidity
Community Partnerships CP1. Collaborate with community-based organizations to provide services and support to disadvantaged communities and otherwise hard-to-reach groups.
Housing and Cooling HC1. Develop uniform utility hot weather provisions.​

HC2. Improve targeting and uptake of existing energy efficiency and weatherization programs in heat vulnerable, disadvantaged communities to expand access to sustainable and affordable cooling.​

HC3. Expand access to affordable cooling through HEAP program by advocating for additional funding for the HEAP cooling component.​

HC4: Explore long-term ability to mitigate energy burden impacts associated with cooling and electrification.

Download a PDF of the EHAP Work Group interim recommendations.

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