The Biden Administration through the interagency National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) launched Heat.gov, a new website to provide the public and decision-makers with educated information to understand and reduce the health risks of extreme heat. Heat.gov will provide a one-stop hub on heat and health for the nation and is a priority of President Biden’s National Climate Task Force and its Interagency Working Group on Extreme Heat.
Extreme heat has been the greatest weather-related cause of death in the U.S. for the past 30 years — more than hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding or extreme cold — killing over 700 people per year. In addition, the heat crisis does not affect people equally. Extreme heat mortality disproportionately affects Native American and Black communities, as well as those living in the urban core or very rural neighborhoods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The launch of Heat.gov is the latest measure to address extreme heat. With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration has invested in programs to build resilient infrastructure that helps communities withstand extreme heat, drought, wildfires and other heat-related hazards. Additionally, the Administration has made record investments to help families with their household energy costs, including summer cooling.
To serve the American people, Heat.gov offers maps, data and information from across disciplines, from inside and outside of government, that will enable informed decisions by communities on a daily basis and allow planning weeks and months ahead. The site features heat information from across federal agencies, including heat forecasts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service, the new national Climate and Health Outlook developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC’s Heat and Health Tracker, as well as heat planning and preparedness guides. Heat.gov also includes information on NIHHIS programs; events and news articles; heat and health program funding opportunities; and information to help at-risk communities.
July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, and summers are getting hotter and deadlier. The annual average temperature of the contiguous United States has already warmed over the past few decades and is projected to rise by 5°F – 8.7°F by the end of this century. Heat-related illnesses and death are largely preventable with proper planning, monitoring and education. City officials, the growing number of heat resilience officers, as well as doctors, nurses, first responders, researchers and the general public, are increasingly requesting federal support to understand the complex and dangerous impacts of extreme heat. Heat.gov helps to meet this growing demand for authoritative heat and health tools and information.
“Extreme heat is a global health threat, and due to human-caused climate change, it’s getting worse,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “Reducing the risks of extreme heat in our country requires a whole-of-government effort, which is why NOAA has led a large federal coalition to create, launch and manage Heat.gov. This website will improve public health and help us build a Climate-Ready Nation.”
Heat.gov is a collaboration of NIHHIS’ federal government partners, including NOAA, CDC, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
NOAA’s Climate Program Office and National Weather Service, in partnership with the CDC, founded NIHHIS to bring together all federal agencies and programs focused on societal heat resilience to jointly improve federal, state and local capacity to reduce the health, economic and infrastructural impacts of extreme heat.
Heat.gov was created in collaboration with Esri, a geographic information system company. The website is hosted on Esri’s cloud-based geospatial platform, which allows easy access to a range of features, such as localized heat information, links to heat tools across the federal government, and an interactive map of the NOAA and NIHHIS urban heat island mapping campaigns. The site supports open data access, enabling communities and planners to integrate federal heat information into their own decision-making.