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Mapping Heat Inequality in NYC

With more New Yorkers staying home this summer, extreme heat and unequal access to cool green spaces may become a more serious issue than ever before.

Using satellite data from the US Geological Survey’s Landsat 8 satellite, the New York City Council’s Data Operations Unit put together a map of how temperature varies across the city.

The result is clear: some parts of the city are hotter during the summer months than others, particularly in south/southeast Brooklyn and southeast Queens.

Extreme Heat & Unequal Access to Air Conditioning

Increased daytime temperatures, reduced nighttime cooling, and higher air pollution levels associated with urban heat islands can affect human health by contributing to general discomfort, respiratory difficulties, heat cramps and exhaustion, non-fatal heat stroke, and heat-related mortality.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more Americans die from heat waves every year than from all other extreme weather events combined.

For information on some ways to get cool this summer, visit the Parks Department’s Cool It! NYC Program

As temperatures increase due to climate change, more needs to be done in order to keep communities cool, especially in areas where there are more individuals whose health might already be at risk.

Extreme heat during the summer has detrimental effects on health and may negatively impact those who are also at-risk for serious complications from COVID19.

For more information on heat inequality and the causes of heat islands and disparities within cities, see the City Council’s work on Resiliency.

Residents in Brownsville (Bk), Jamaica (Qns), Rockaways (Qns), East Treamont (Bx), and Mott Haven / Hunts Point (Bx) experience extreme heat and relatively less access to air conditioning.

In addition, over 20 percent of households in Morrisania / East Tremont (Bx) and University Heights / Fordham (Bx) lack access to air conditioning in their homes.

Targeting home cooling support programs and cooling center locations for these neighborhoods is important and may reduce negative health outcomes.

For information on air conditioning assistance for low-income seniors, visit the GetCool Air Conditioner Program.


The New York City Council passed a package of bills to address cooling equity in New York City. This legislation was included in the recommendations set forth in the Council’s climate policy paper. The goal of the proposals is to achieve cooling equity and reduce heat-related deaths.

Cooling Plan

Introduction 1960-A-2020 (sponsored by Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr.) requires the Office of Emergency Management, in consultation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, to develop a comprehensive cooling and communication plan to ensure that the cooling needs of residents are met on high heat days.

The annual plan must describe how the city will inform residents regarding the dangers of heat exposure, how they can stay cool during heat-related emergencies, and how the city will provide access to cooling, including cooling centers.

The plan will also include measures that large office buildings can take to reduce stress on the electric grid during the summer months.

Read the Bill: Int 1960-2020

Heat-Related Death Data

Introduction 1945-A-2020 (sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan) requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to better measure heat-related deaths. DOHMH will study and adopt improved estimations of heat deaths.

They will also report on neighborhood heat vulnerability and the number of heat-related deaths, including:

  • Number of heat stress deaths (those caused directly by heat)
  • Estimation of heat exacerbated deaths (those caused indirectly by heat, such as by aggravating an underlying illness)
  • Description of the methods used to derive heat vulnerability and estimate heat exacerbated deaths
  • Description of social and environmental factors used to determine heat vulnerability
  • Aggregate demographic information of heat stress deaths (age, gender, neighborhood, race and/or ethnicity)

Read the Bill: Int 1945-2020

 For feedback, comments, and questions please email

Created by the NYC Council Data Team.