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Climate change and sources of pollution in the Huntington, WV

Student(s):Katie Norman and Jasmine Knight
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Educator(s):Rick Sharpe
Report Type(s):
Protocols:(Protocol Deactivated), Surface Temperature, Aerosols
Date Submitted:04/30/2013
Screen capture from presentation
This project looks at climate change and two sources of pollution in the tri-state area. This research project involves taking surface temperature observations, ozone level observations, and the levels of aerosols (particulate matter) in the air. All of these observations will be based on G.L.O.B.E. protocols. Students will look at surface temperatures because the type of surface exposed to the sun can affect climate change by how it absorbs or reflects solar energy. Solar energy that is reflected by a surface passes back through the atmosphere into space and does not affect climate change. However, the energy absorbed by a surface is later re-emitted at a longer infrared wavelength that is trapped by greenhouse gases and does not escape into space. This leads to cities becoming "heat islands" because so many city surfaces like asphalt, roofs, brick buildings, and concrete absorb much more energy than they reflect. This absorbed energy is then re-emitted and absorbed by greenhouse gases that heat up the lower atmosphere and so too, our climate. Higher temperatures increase the formation of surface level ozone through an interaction of oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Surface temperature observations are indicators of climate change and ozone level observations measure one health consequence of increased average temperatures. Students will also measure the levels of aerosols in the atmosphere using sun photometers. This device measures the amount of electricity a solar cell generates in the sunlight versus how much should be generated given a clear atmosphere. Huntington's air ranks among the worst in the country because of the heavy industries and coal-fired power plants located downwind in the Ohio Valley. These facilities emit large quantities of aerosols into the atmosphere affecting the quality of the air we breathe. This is a limited preliminary student investigation that will lead to a wider aerosol study of the Tri-state area by HHS students next year.


How long do you think you should continue this research to gain a better understanding of the relationship between aerosols and surface temperature?

If you could repeat the experiment, what would you do differently?
Great video and interesting project! What impact do you think only being able to take aerosol sun photometer measurements on clear sky days has on your results of the effects of aerosols on cooling or warming the surface temperatures? Also, in your graphs, what are the units of the measurements (and since there are a lot of different measurements being shown on a single graph, I'm guessing there are multiple different scales and units being shown)?