Case Study: Students Investigate the Impact of Cities on Temperature

Worldwide Surface Temperature Field Campaign

Photo of student collecting GLOBE surface temperature data. Photo credit: K.Czajkowski

On the coldest day of the winter of 2000, a group of dedicated, excited high school students congregated at a research arboretum to meet Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, a remote sensing scientist and meteorology professor from The University of Toledo. The professor had invited the students to participate in a project researching global climate change science and the urban heat island effect. The ensuing program built a relationship between research scientists, students, and teachers that has lasted to this day, 10 years later. The ongoing relationship is maintained to the mutual benefit of all involved. Teachers gain professional development in cutting edge technology; students benefit by actively participating in research in real world science problems; and the research scientists benefit by increasing their data collection capabilities.

From 2006 to 2008, K-12 students from Ohio worked with students from around the world to study the impact of snow and ice on climate and the relationship between land cover and the urban heat island effect. They participated in the GLOBE Program Surface Temperature Research Project directed by the University of Toledo and OhioView. Thousands of students worldwide collected surface temperature data, recorded cloud type and percent cover, and took snow depth measurements during the school day for two weeks each December in a coordinated field campaign. The students collected Earth surface temperature data around their schools using a handheld infrared thermometer in an effort to understand the way in which Earth's temperature is affected by land cover. This broad collection of data is particularly important in the study of the urban heat island effect, which suggests that due to changes in land cover type from natural to man-made, cities of significant size capture and retain additional heat. The goal of this chapter is to demonstrate how the GLOBE student data collected during the field campaign supports the hypothesis of the urban heat island effect in larger cities such as Toledo.

Read more about the Surface Temperature Field Campaigns on the GLOBE Program Web site.

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