SoCal Heat Hub Year 2 Community Partner Roundtable

Written by: Nicole Fassina

Community engagement and meaningful collaboration are at the foundation of the Hub’s values to address critical extreme heat challenges. By fostering open dialogue and creating opportunities for strong partnerships, we aim to enhance community engagement and ensure that our research is shared with and informed by diverse perspectives. In line with the necessity for meaningful community engagement, the Heat Hub hosts annual summits to communicate research findings, solicit feedback, and understand the needs of our community partners.

This year’s Heat Hub Community Partner Roundtable, which took place on May 20th, was an informative, engaging, and collaborative session that brought together different partners, primarily local and regional government staff and planners, as well as some partners from special jurisdictions. The Heat Hub and the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative (SDRCC) came together to arrange this year’s Community Partner Roundtable event at the San Diego Water Board in order to update community partners about the ongoing research from the SoCal Heat Hub team and to identify opportunities for collaborative efforts across different sectors to address extreme heat issues in the San Diego region.

The event was kickstarted with a presentation providing an overview of the Heat Hub and was followed by multiple presentations by each of the research theme area groups.

The event started off with a presentation of an overview of the Hub and the different research teams from Hub manager, Maren Hale. Maren highlighted five research areas of the Hub, which include: Atmosphere-land-ocean dynamics; Public health, epidemiology, and environmental justice; Ecohydrology and sustainable greening; Education to broaden participation; and Community engagement. Following the introduction, each research team presented their own recent research findings and updates. Each team’s updates are summarized below:


Education to Broaden Participation – presented by Nan Renner

  • About: Connecting K-12 education with community and local climate action and highlighting climate career pathways to inspire and motivate young people. Highlighted the Cooler Communities curriculum work.
  • Student activities involve engaging in systems thinking to learn about the environment, collaborative learning, and interpreting local vegetation and land surface temperature data.
  • Highlighted key partnerships like GroundWork San Diego & UCSD-EarthLab Community Station, demonstrating the importance of local community engagement.


Atmosphere-Land-Ocean Dynamics

Marine and Terrestrial Heat – presented by Mark Merrifield
  • About: Investigating the relationship between heat in the ocean and heat on land.
  • Findings: The warming ocean is impacting heat waves in Southern California. Ocean conditions impact land temperatures. Data shows that marine heatwaves have been occurring more often since 2014.
  • Future work: A high-resolution atmospheric model that runs during different types of typical heatwave conditions in order to capture heat island effects. To see how ocean dynamics affect land temperature and public health, and how these effects can be predicted.
Local Temperature Trends – presented by Alexander Weyant
  • About: Investigating discrepancies in local temperature data and trying to correct them.
  • Findings: Daily temperatures are increasing, especially at night. Increasing minimum temperatures is identified as a threat to public health.
Extreme Weather Impacts – presented by Kristen Guirguis
  • About: Predicting extreme weather impacts by modeling atmospheric circulation patterns. Trying to understand how these weather patterns develop and if they can be anticipated.
  • Findings: Developed a modeling approach that combines historical information with dynamic models to provide forecasts of weather events such as atmospheric rivers, Santa Ana winds, and extreme heat events at lead times up to 3–4 weeks in advance.
  • Future work: Applying the modeling methodology to warm season extreme weather events.
Marine Layer Clouds – presented by Rachel Clemesha
  • About: Investigating how heat is affected by marine layer clouds and how monsoons in North American impact low coastal clouds in Southern California.
  • Findings: Increased monsoonal moisture in the summer helps to break up May Gray and June Gloom in Southern California.
  • Future work: Continuing investigations of marine layer clouds and heat.


Public Health, Epidemiology, & Environmental Justice – presented by Maren Hale on behalf of Tarik Benmarhnia

  • About: Highlighted multiple recent studies and some work coming soon
“The spatial distribution of heat related hospitalizations and classification of the most dangerous heat events in California at a small-scale level” (Kristen Hansen et al.)
  • About: Studying how health impacts of heat are distributed spatially in California and which types of heat events drive the health burden of heat in different regions.
  • Findings: The types of heat events that are more impactful to human health vary by region, highlighting the importance of a localized approach to heat panning. Developed a mapping tool for impacts of heat using various extreme heat definitions in California.
“Is home where the heat is? comparing residence-based with time-weighted dynamic measures of exposure to microclimate indicators in San Diego, California” (Michael Garber et al.)
  • About: Comparing dynamic and static heat exposure models in San Diego.
  • Findings: The two types of model produce similar results, so using traditional models is most likely sufficient for obtaining heat-exposure estimates in this region.
“Identifying which environmental justice metrics explain the spatio-temporal patterns in heat-related health burden at the community-level” (Anais Teyton et al.)
  • About: Future work that will assess novel environmental justice metrics that may predict the heterogeneity of heat-related health impacts and contribute most to community vulnerability.


Ecohydrology & Sustainable Greening – presented by Morgan Levy

  • About: Provided an overview of ecohydrology research and highlighted research from two researchers in the group
Hydroclimate interactions during heatwaves in U.S. urban centers (Xueli Yang)
  • About: Ongoing and future work aimed at understanding heat waves using network analysis, and investigating urban climate and greening dynamics in Southern California.
Interactions between temperature, land use, and water use in San Diego (Laney Wicker)
  • About: Understanding how urban water deliveries are sensitive to temperature and how this sensitivity is mediated by landscape attributes.
  • Findings: Water use increases as temperature increases, but this relationship varies across regions of San Diego. Sensitivity of water deliveries to temperature increases with the percentage of managed land.


Participants engage in discussions about ongoing research and collaborative strategies to address climate issues during the breakout session.

After presentations and hearing about research updates from the different research theme groups, attendees had options to join different breakout groups in order to network, ask questions or discuss findings from the presentations with the research groups, discuss how the Hub can make research useful for planning efforts, and find opportunities for collaboration between different organizations. 

Overall, the community roundtable event was a success, showcasing insightful research updates and fostering meaningful discussions during the breakout sessions. Attendees not only gained valuable knowledge but also had the opportunity to engage in collaborative conversations, sparking new ideas and strengthening community bonds. Events like these highlight the incredible value of community dialogue and teamwork in driving innovation and collective progress. We look forward to more such enriching experiences in the future.