Announcing GLOBE Surface Temperature Field Campaign 2015

December 1 to December 31, 2015

The GLOBE Program will host the annual surface temperature field campaign from December 1 to December 31, 2015.  This is a great opportunity to work as a community with schools around the world on a common research project. Students have used the surface temperature field campaign data to do research projects from fourth grade up to graduate students at universities. One of my graduate students published her masters thesis and found that a strong warming due to urban areas is observable in the student data. It is my hope that continued expansion of the surface temperature field campaign will help students of all ages answer interesting and important research questions.

How do parking lots affect surface temperature?

How does the height of grass affect the temperature?

What is the best color for a playground to keep it cool for the students? This project was done by students in the Dominican Republic. Please see the study they did below.


There is information about last year’s field campaign on the blog site as well.

The map below shows observations from the 2014 field campaign from December 9th. As you can see, there is a large range in surface temperature observations between the northern latitudes of the US and Europe compared to Trinidad and Tobago and Saudi Arabia. This year with the strong El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, the surface temperature field campaign may be even more interesting. Much of the US and Europe are currently not covered by snow. This is a typical effect of El Nino in the US. It may not be in Europe.


For resources, go to the GLOBE website.
The GLOBE teacher’s guide has the how’s and what’s about the surface temperature protocol.

The field guide also provides important information about performing the protocol.

The data sheets can be found off of this page.


Some teachers find it hard to get an infrared thermometer (IRT) to do the protocol. In the past, we have used Fluke 63. We have used Fluke 561 most recently. If you can’t find one of those, you may use a lower cost instrument. When you set up your surface temperature site, please specify the type of IRT you are using. Also, you may be able to borrow one from a heating and cooling specialist or an auto mechanic. They use them for their jobs.

Questions? Contact Kevin Czajkowski, 419-530-4274,


In this study here, researchers at Berkeley University are doing a similar study. GLOBE students did this project first! Congratulations to the students in the Dominican Republic. Here is an article that Maria Lorraine de Ruiz-Alma, GLOBE Country Coordinator from the Dominican Republic.

Green Surf changed the sun’s heat!      By Gabriel Ruiz

Did you notice that nowadays parking lots, roofs, playgrounds, terraces, and other paved surfaces are painted green like tennis courts? Do you know why? Is it art, fashion, decoration, or science? The main reason is the latest and it all started at the 9th Annual GLOBE Conference in Prague, Czech Republic from 31 July - 5 August 2005, when Dr. Kevin Czajkowski presented the Surface Protocol (SP) and the SP project.  To participate in the SP project you would have to compare the surface temperature observations from two sites around your school, one in a large homogeneous grassy field (as large as possible), and the other in a nearby parking lot. The reason to do this is to compare the difference in the way that grass and paved surfaces change the sun's energy into heat or evapotranspiration. In order to participate, a teacher needs to have been GLOBE trained in the surface temperature protocol and have an infrared (non-contact) thermometer. Infrared thermometers (IRTs) are used in the auto repair, heating and cooling and food preparation industries.

Mrs. María de Ruiz-Alma from Dominican Republic,  asked Dr. Czajkowski if urban schools could compare the temperature of their paved playgrounds given that they do not have grass areas. The idea started a worldwide campaign and the results where unsettling: the temperature was higher, 6 degrees Celsius or more on impervious surfaces compared with grass surfaces!

Particularly roads, roofs, parking lots, playgrounds, and courts were generally dark, and thus heat absorbing, this also contributes to the urban heat island effect. The urban heat island (UHI) phenomenon rises as urbanization increases. A key characteristic of urban areas is artificial surfaces, which can absorb and store great amounts of heat throughout the day.

Our GLOBE teachers in Notre Dame School, Dominican Republic reported the highest temperature of the campaign so they decided to solve the problem to protect their school community. Changing the paved surfaces was very difficult and cost a lot of money, but what could be a savvy solution that reduces the surface temperature and has a low budget for implementation? Color!

We started to experiment with different colors, the one that reduces the surface temperature the most was WHITE but then on the playground and the courts it will reflect the sun and blind people, and our situation will worsen given that we live in a sunny tropical island, so we decided on GREEN and called our campaign GREEN SURF. The green coat on the impervious surfaces reduces the heat 3 degrees Celsius and also have a psychological cooling effect so great that our students prefer to have lunch on the green paved area. On the other hand the school looked more attractive and the community enjoyed more their environment.

The idea run viral, people started to ask why we painted our courts and why we measured the surface temperature weekly. The awareness of the island heat, and the cooling effect of our GREEN SURF took root and more schools, businesses, apartments parking lots and even the Ministry of Education painted their impervious surfaces. This collective action reduces the temperature even more in our neighborhood.

Social Media spread the word, and other communities around the world were implementing the idea.  We also added more shrubs, flower plants, and planted trees to reduce the temperature even more. Then came the designers and started to plant grass on walls and roofs.

Each time you see green paved areas and grass walls and roofs, remember the big contribution that the GLOBE Surface Temperature Campaign gave to the world, creating awareness of the heat absorbing surfaces and how you could change your environment to a cooler green place.

Students taking surface temperature of the green playground.

Green wall on the playground.

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