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RELEASE: Museum of Life and Science to receive $2.3 million to create NIHHIS Heat Monitoring Center

For Immediate Release – May 20, 2024

Media Contact:
Simone Guthrie, VP of Marketing and Communications
(561) 574-1224
simone.guthrie@lifeandscience.org

Link to NOAA press release

Raed Mansour shows Ashwin Sunderraj how to use a sensor for Chicago’s July 28, 2023, urban heat island mapping campaign. (Image credit: 2023 Chicago Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign)

DURHAM, NC — The Museum of Life and Science will receive a $2.3 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a virtual Center of Excellence to support community science observations and data collection on extreme heat. The Center for Collaborative Heat Monitoring (CCHM) will be based out of the Museum of Life and Science, and will work with three additional geographically dispersed sites, to serve the entire country at a regional level. Together with the Arizona Science Center, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the Museum of Science in Boston, the Center will observe, monitor, and evaluate factors influencing heat risk at a local scale in 30 historically disadvantaged communities over the next three years. CCHM is a broad collaborative effort leveraging these place-based institutions and supported by the technical capacity and expertise at CAPA Strategies, Utah State University, the North Carolina State Climate Office, and AQUEHS Corp.

The Center for Collaborative Heat Monitoring will be one of two National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) Centers of Excellence supported by $4.55 million through the Investing in America agenda. Durham-based CCHM’s sibling center, the Center for Heat Resilient Communities, will be based out of California and Arizona, and will receive $2.25 million in funding to bring together diverse expertise and knowledge-sharing hubs to identify and evaluate policies, protocols, and lessons for heat resilience.

“The past few years have shown us that we can work towards fixing what we can measure,” said Max Cawley, Principal Investigator for CCHM and the Museum of Life and Science’s Director for Climate Research and Engagement. “And when it comes to heat imperilment, how you measure also matters. We’re eager to convene a strong collaborative partnership towards expanding where we can measure heat and who’s involved in measuring it.”

These efforts advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 initiative, which set a goal that 40 percent of overall benefits from certain federal climate and clean energy investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. It supports a whole-of-government effort of federal agency engagement with states and local communities to ensure that benefits reach disadvantaged communities. The centers will work with historically excluded communities to broaden the impact and benefits of participatory science, heat data and information, and decision-making tools to communities not yet served by these resources.

The Museum of Life and Science has been actively engaging with NOAA on climate literacy programs, research, and initiatives for many years. This includes co-managing several Environmental Literacy Programs (ELP) projects, running a HeatWatch program funded through NOAA’s Climate Program Office and NIHHIS in 2021, leading community engagement for the Carolinas Collaborative for Climate, Health, and Equity (C3HE), funded by NOAA’s Climate Programs Office, and the installation of its NOAA Science on a Sphere exhibition on the first floor of the Museum’s main building.

“The impacts of extreme heat caused by climate change are an increasing threat to our health, ecosystems and economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Thanks to President Biden’s ambitious climate agenda, this investment will support new NIHHIS Centers of Excellence to help protect historically excluded communities from the dangers of extreme heat, boost climate resilience, and increase awareness on best practices to tackle the climate crisis.”

Visit heat.gov to learn more about the newly established Centers of Excellence and the Museum of Life and Science’s support of community climate science field campaign efforts.

About the Museum of Life and Science

Located less than five miles from downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Our 84-acre campus includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast, and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits. Our interactive experiences include Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek Railway, Hideaway Woods, Into the Mist, Earth Moves, and Aerospace, which features one of the largest collections of Apollo-era NASA artifacts in the state. The Museum is also an AZA-accredited zoo, home to rescued black bears, lemurs, endangered red wolves, and more than 60 species of live animals. For more than 75 years, the Museum has upheld its ongoing commitment to the communities of Durham, the Triangle, and North Carolina through programming, engagement, and research. To learn more, visit lifeandscience.org.

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