Grade LevelThe chapter is appropriate for students in grades 6 through 12.
Learning GoalsAfter completing this chapter, students will be able to:
- download GLOBE Program surface temperature student data and import it into My World GIS;
- add and manipulate data layers in My World GIS; and
- subset large datasets, buffer others, examine spatial relationships, and gather statistics to investigate the urban heat island effect.
After completing this chapter, students will be able to successfully download any of the 50+ GLOBE Program datasets in the investigation areas of atmosphere, hydrology, land cover, phenology, and soils and import them into My World GIS for comparison and analysis. Users will be able to better predict, quantify, and understand the relationships between land use and environmental variables. The GIS skills obtained, including data import plus spatial and statistical analyses, can be applied to the study of any Earth science data sets.
The GLOBE Program is a NASA-funded international Earth System Science initiative that involves students in over 110 countries worldwide who follow scientist-created protocols to collect atmosphere, hydrology, land cover, soils and phenology data near their school yard.
Student-collected surface temperature data is uploaded to the GLOBE website and is available for download by students and scientists to conduct authentic research projects. Surface temperature is measured with a hand-held Infrared Thermometer (IRT) that, when necessary, is wrapped in a thermal glove or has been placed outdoors for at least 30 minutes prior to data collection. The instrument is pointed at the ground to take surface temperature readings. GLOBE surface temperature data is available for download in tabular format (tab or comma delimited text files) and in shape-file format for use with GIS software.
Data is also available in graphical and map view formats through the GLOBE visualization tools and is available from 2003 - present. GLOBE scientists use student surface temperature observations in two ways:
- To validate satellite algorithms that are used to record Earth's surface temperature
- To compare observations between different cover types to monitor the effect of land cover on the temperature of Earth
In this EET chapter, students download GLOBE surface temperature data and import the data into My World GIS for analysis. Through the use of a variety of tools in My World GIS, they compare data from urban and rural schools to determine if cities are indeed warming up as predicted by the urban heat island effect.
The urban heat island effect is a phenomenon where the change in the land from natural vegetation to parking lots and buildings can cause the temperature of the area to increase (see figure below). The central part of a city can be 5-10 degrees C warmer than the surrounding countryside. Transpiration from vegetation, including trees and grass cools the air. The energy from the sun that shines on the surface is used to evaporate water and is not available to heat up the ground. In contrast, parking lots, roads and buildings dry out under sunshine, and all of the incoming energy from the sun heats the surface, warming it up more than it would otherwise. (Note: The time of day and time of year may influence whether pavement is warmer than grass.)
Urban heat island effects are very dramatic in the Southwest United States. To learn more about the effect and strategies to mitigate its impact, read the information presented here: Urban Heat Island.
This chapter is intended to be used in a computer lab setting with My World GIS installed and access to the Internet available (although once the data is downloaded Internet access is not necessary). Students could work independently, in pairs, or in small teams depending on computer availability or teacher preference. Although not implicitly included in the chapter, students could take on roles such as team leader, surface temperature scientist, and GIS expert.
This chapter can be used in Earth/Environmental Science courses, physics, geography, or social studies classes.
The following National Science Education Standards are supported by this chapter:
- Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. A variety of technologies, such as hand tools, measuring instruments, and calculators, should be an integral component of scientific investigations. The use of computers for the collection, analysis, and display of data is also a part of this standard. Mathematics plays an essential role in all aspects of an inquiry. For example, measurement is used for posing questions, formulas are used for developing explanations, and charts and graphs are used for communicating results
- Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data. Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data. New techniques and tools provide new evidence to guide inquiry and new methods to gather data, thereby contributing to the advance of science. The accuracy and precision of the data, and therefore the quality of the exploration, depends on the technology used.
- Waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter. Waves, including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter.
- Global climate is determined by energy transfer from the sun at and near Earth's surface. Global climate is determined by energy transfer from the sun at and near Earth's surface. This energy transfer is influenced by dynamic processes such as cloud cover and Earth's rotation, and static conditions such as the position of mountain ranges and oceans.
- Human activities can enhance potential for hazards. Human activities can enhance potential for hazards. Acquisition of resources, urban growth, and waste disposal can accelerate rates of natural change.
Geography StandardsThe following U.S. National Geography Standards are supported by this chapter:
- How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
- How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface
- The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.
- How human actions modify the physical environment.
The following National Mathematics Standards are supported by this chapter:
- Specify locations and describe spatial relationships using coordinate geometry and other representational systems.
- Use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems.
- Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them.
Case Study: 10 minutes
Part 1: 40 minutes
Part 2: 45 minutes
Part 3: 30 minutes
Part 4: 40 minutes
Part 5: 30 minutes
The My World GIS project files are provided here and directly within the chapter at the end of each part.Part 1: Urban_Heat_Island.m3vz ( 3.4MB May16 10)
Part 2: Urban_Heat_Island_Part_2.m3vz ( 3.4MB Jun2 10)
Part 3: Urban_Heat_Island_Part_3.m3vz ( 3.4MB Jun2 10)
Part 4: Urban_Heat_Island_Part_4.m3vz ( 3.5MB Jun2 10)
Part 5: Urban_Heat_Island_complete.m3vz ( 3.5MB May19 10)
The GLOBE Surface Temperature Protocol (Acrobat (PDF) 896kB May14 10) (PDF file) describes the science behind the data and the urban heat island effect.
Heat Island Effect/U.S. EPA from the Environmental Protection Agency is a comprehensive Web site with basic background information, additional resources, plus access to a database of community initiatives to mitigate the effects of urban heat islands.
The Heat Island Group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory studies heat islands and has links to research and publications on their website.
Things are Heating Up! is an article about global warming and the urban heat island effect from EcoHealth 101.
Celebrate with SATELLITES, The Science Teacher, January 2009, 76, 1, 27-33. Learn more about student research using surface temperature and remote sensing from this article written by Kevin Czajkowski, and Mikell Lynne Hedley, University of Toledo.