Kick Off of Urban Heat Island Effect/Surface Temperature Campaign

It is here! The Urban Heat Island Effect/Surface Temperature Campaign for 2018-2019 will start October 1. I am so excited to be kicking off a new campaign. There are so many more schools and students participating that it is very exciting.

The Urban Heat Island is a very current and timely research topic to study. This past summer there were heat waves in Japan, the United Kingdom and Europe as well as parts of the United States. Heat waves are now the natural disasters causing the most deaths in the United States. Urban Heat Island Effect makes cities even warmer than surrounding areas exacerbating the impacts from heat waves. On a lighter note, Ireland was very hot this summer when the GLOBE's Learning Expedition (GLE) was there in July. All of us who went learned quickly that Ireland does not have air conditioning in most buildings.

We are going to have a series of webinars to support the Urban Heat Island campaign. The first one is next Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 8 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Go to this link to register for the webinar,

We ask teachers and students to take observations on at least five days during October and try to take the temperature of at least two different cover types. They could be grass or a parking lot (asphalt or concrete), bare ground, etc. It is best if you can have your students develop a research question or questions that they would be interested in answering.

This summer, I spent a day in Chicago, Illinois and worked with Gitte Venicx who works for a non-profit called EarthWatch. Gitte organized an program this summer for international employees of IBM. The employees were suppose to do an environmental program on the weekends. They took surface temperature and cloud observations in the center of Chicago. An image of Chicago and the observations they took are in the figure below. One of the interesting things they looked at was how the shadows from the tall buildings affected the temperature.

What we found was the the grassy areas were cooler than the paved areas. But, we found that the grassy areas were similar temperatures to the nearby shaded paved areas.

This year I would like to encourage more students to do Projects on the Urban Heat Island Effect. There have been some in the past. Here are two that were done by students from Akron, Ohio. 

One way you can do a project is to find a school near you that is either a rural school if you are in an urban one or an urban school if you are in a rural one. You can compare the observations.

Okay, let's take some surface temperature and cloud observations!

Dr. C


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Looking forward to getting involved with this project. After sampling today, my students just suggested a couple more distinctive areas here on the school grounds for surface temperature observations. It will interesting to observe trends in data for three adjacent areas with distinctly different surfaces - artificial turf, rubberized all-weather track and concrete. I'm hoping this leads them to developing comparative data research questions.
Your students might find it interesting to compare the temperature of grass versus the artificial turf. They're both green but will have very different temperatures.