North, South, East, West: A Study of Microclimate

Student(s):Leah Stanevich
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Teacher(s):$user.getFullName() (inactive)
Report Type(s):Standard Research Report
Protocols:Surface Temperature
Date Submitted:05/03/2013

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The problem of too short of a growing season is a problem faced annually by gardeners. The hypothesis for this research study is the south side of a building would be the most absorbent of sunlight, resulting in warmer temperatures and resulting in a longer growing season. Surface temperatures were taken on the north, south, east, and west sides of a house and a school. Out of the four directions south and west were the warmest side of both a house and school. It would be best to plant a garden on the south or west sides of a building according to the data. Doing a similar study on more buildings or for an entire year should confirm the validity of this research project.


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This was an interesting project. What time of year did you collect your samples?
It would be interesting to find out how data is different with the change of seasons. Does it matter what you plant? Is the soil the same?

Posted on 5/6/13 3:01 PM.

Student of Steven Frantz
Mrs. Burns,
I collected this data in the month of December. It was amazingly warm for the month of December. I think that it would matter what type of plants. Some are warm weather and others are colder weather plants, so I think that it matters based on what you plant.

Posted on 5/10/13 3:01 PM in reply to Marcy Burns.

It would also be interesting to know whether time of day has an influence?

Also, would your results be different if you looked at air temperature instead of surface temperature? Which of those is more important for plants?

Is there a way that you can use GLOBE data from the area, along with information about the site definition, to extend the data set that you have to work with?

Posted on 5/9/13 4:31 PM.

Do you have any thoughts as to why the warmest side of the building wasn't always the same? Do you think there are any other measurements you could make to help aide your research?

Posted on 5/14/13 7:04 PM in reply to Lin Chambers.

Student of Steven Frantz
If you mean the all together averages, then It was because I can not be in to places at once to compare my data. I had to take my temperature for my school in the morning during my globe period which is from around 10:39 to 11:00 am, and at home from 4:30 to 5:00 pm.

Posted on 5/16/13 3:06 PM in reply to Jessica Mackaro.

Yes - taking measurements like that would be difficult. Do you think it would be worthwhile to repeat your experiment, using two buildings close to each other so you can take measurements around the same time of day?

Are the buildings composed of the same material (i.e., brick, wood, etc.)? If they aren't, what affect do you think this has on surface temperature?

Posted on 5/17/13 7:27 PM in reply to Student of Steven Frantz.

Student of Steven Frantz
I think that time of day has a big influence on the data. Since I cannot be in two places at once, I had to take the data in the morning during my GLOBE class, around 10:30 to 11:00 am and to compare at home I had had to take the data around 4:30 to 5:00. For example, I think that the reason the west exposure is the warmest exposure in the afternoon is because the sun rises in the east on sets in the west, and since the sun is out longer during the day the sun is mostly on the south and west exposures, thus making those two exposures warmer.
If I were to have only annual plants, then air temperature would be important because the roots of the plants do not take in the heat of the soil like per annuals do to survive the winter and grow back again the following year. If the air temperature is not right for these plants they will die, but surface and soil are very important too. For pre annuals, the surface would be most important. The air might be cold and the plant might look like it is dead, but the roots are still underground and they will grow back the next year. The soil and surface temperatures have to be right for the plants to grow and to stay for a longtime.
Yes. I can get in contact with other GLOBE students in the area to get a better comparison to extend this research. I can get to them through he globe website.
Thank you.

Posted on 5/16/13 2:58 PM in reply to Lin Chambers.

What a meaningful and interesting topic! I am curious if you considered the influence of moisture (like precipitation or soil moisture) in addition to temperature in your analysis or hypothesis? Also, what type of plants are you considering in your analysis, as some plants may like "full sun", which the south or west side may provide, but others may not thrive as well in long hours of direct sun like that.

Posted on 5/20/13 6:20 PM.

Student of Steven Frantz
I am so sorry for not being able to get back to you for so long. The computer crashed! I feel terrible, but on with my project. I have considered the influence of the moisture a lot during this project. I have realized during my data collecting days that if there was rain that morning or raining at that very moment that the temperatures were VERY close. Also the reason the north exposure could have been the coolest also due to the moisture aspect. Reason being that the north exposure of the school building was always shadowed by the school itself and coming from a chilly night in the month of December, I would have to take my temperatures on the frosted short-grass area, where I always take the data. On
nights that have rain there weren't any signs of frost.
We usually have both kinds.

Posted on 7/12/13 10:07 PM in reply to Sarah Tessendorf.

I also noticed that in your graphs some days there is more spread between the surface temperatures you measured on each side of the building, whereas on other days the temperatures were very similar on all four sides. What do you think may have caused this?

Posted on 5/20/13 6:21 PM.