Hot Pursuit: Sarasota County & NASA Extreme Heat Research

To understand which populations and neighborhoods are hit the hardest by heat, we partnered with NASA DEVELOP to complete a county-wide heat vulnerability assessment.

Extreme heat

Sunset at the beach with a lifeguard hut.
[CREDIT: Sarasota County Government]
Extreme heat is defined as a prolonged period of excessively hot weather that is often combined with high humidity. Since the 1970s, Sarasota has faced a significant rise in temperatures during the summer season. With climate change impacts becoming more evident, the number of hot days might continually increase to 131 days per year around 2050!  *Union of Concerned Scientists (2019), mid-century 2036-2065 estimates (provided by NASA)

The Study

Map of Sarasota County developed by NASA.
The NASA DEVELOP team examined the connection between extreme heat and vulnerable populations. Using data from satellites and the International Space Station (ISS), they studied daytime and nighttime land surface temperature, albedo (heat reflected from the sun), and evapotranspiration (cools the land surface). They also gathered socioeconomic and environmental variables like land cover, population density, and age.

The findings

In Sarasota County, some communities are hotter than others. We found that Newtown, Venice, and North Port are hotspots. High temperatures and elderly populations put them at risk, worsened by socio-economic vulnerabilities.

North Sarasota:

North Sarasota stands out as the most vulnerable area to heat hazards. It includes several census tracts with high unemployment and poverty rates. With daytime land surface temperatures (DLST) exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit on average, these neighborhoods are especially at risk from heat hazards.


Venice stands out as a community with many residents aged 65 and above, some of whom live below the poverty line. This combination of age-related and economic vulnerabilities makes Venice a hotspot. While not as hot during the day as North Sarasota, Venice still faces dangerously high summer temperatures, posing risks to its vulnerable populations.

North Port:

North Port shares similar challenges with North Sarasota, like unemployment and poverty. It also has the highest percentage of elderly residents in one area. Although daytime land surface temperatures (DLST) are generally lower in North Port compared to Northern Sarasota City or Venice, they’re still higher than in many other parts of the county. Because of these factors, North Port stands out as a hotspot for heat vulnerability.

Future mitigation recommendations

To address extreme heat, NASA recommended that future efforts should including using low-cost sensors to monitor key areas, increasing tree canopy cover in urban heat islands, setting up cooling centers in vulnerable communities, and installing light-colored roofs to reflect heat.

How to Stay Safe

Although extreme heat presents dangers and health risks, there are many actions individuals can take to protect themselves and their communities. Read our Beating the Heat In Sarasota blog to learn more!



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Posted: June 7, 2024

Category: Conservation
Tags: Extreme Heat, Hot, Pgm_Sustain, Sustainability, Weather

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