Part 2—ACQUIRE Geographic Resources

Step 1 –
Download and Install My World GIS

Note: (2018) My World GIS is now unavailable

Note: (August 2015) A 45-day free trial of My World is available through PASCO scientific.
  1. Open the PASCO My World homepage. Scroll down the page, and click the Free Trial tab.

  2. Select the version of software for your type of operating system or platform (Windows or Mac OS X).
  3. Click the word Download to begin downloading the installer to your computer.
  4. A My World GIS™ version 5.0 Trial Version Installer will download to your computer.
  5. Double click the installer app and follow the onscreen instructions to install My World GIS on your computer.
Note: You may want to return to the My World GIS website later and explore its resources.

Step 2 –
Gather Needed Equipment

  1. With a clipboard and notepaper, walk around your campus and make a list of the major types of landcover and surfaces you see. Think about which ones you would expect to be warmer or cooler than others.
  2. Acquire an instrument that measures temperature. Use the most precise instrument available to you. Familiarize yourself with how to use it correctly and consistently.
  3. Practice taking the temperature at several locations to develop the exact procedure that you will follow for taking temperature measurements. Consider the following questions as you develop your procedure:
    • How far above the surface will you hold the thermometer or temperature probe?
    • How many times will you take the temperature at each location?
    • How will you deal with changing results (different temperatures) at the same location?
    • Will your measurements be made in sun, shade, or both?
    • What will you consider as the minimum area of uniform landcover for a valid location at which to measure temperature?
    • Is there a minimum distance between locations that will you test?
    Be aware that it may take several trials to come up with a consistent procedure that will produce consistent results.
  4. Acquire a hand-held GPS unit and familiarize yourself with its basic functions so you can reliably read and record your location. Set the coordinate units to read in decimal degrees (DD) for easy mapping. Similar to developing the procedure for taking temperature measurements, consider how you can get consistent results from the GPS unit.
  5. If you need background information on the Global Positioning System or GPS units, visit one or more of the following sites for tutorials:

Step 3 –
Formalize Your Protocol

  1. Prepare a data collection table. For each location where you'll take a measurement, you'll want to gather as much information that is relevant to your study as possible. Make your table fairly large so that you'll have plenty of space to record handwritten notes at each location. If necessary, use one sheet of paper per data collection site. These are the data collected for each location in the example study:

    • Latitude (decimal degrees)
    • Longitude (decimal degrees)
    • Brief description of location
    • Type of land cover
    • Type of exposure (sun, shade)
    • Surface temperature (°C)
    • Date of measurement
    • Time of measurement
  2. Write a detailed description of the procedure for collecting data. This is the protocol for your experiment. Your description should be clear enough that someone who is not working with you could take the measurements and they would be consistent with your own.
  • If you are using an infrared thermometer, hold the device such that the beam of light is perpendicular to the ground. Hold the device very steady until you get a digital reading. You may want to repeat three times and take an average to ensure accuracy.
  • If you are using a standard thermometer, hold the device in one steady position for at least one minute, or until the temperature reading stabilizes. While measuring, shade the bulb of the thermometer to ensure that you are measuring heat radiated from below.
  • Record the GPS coordinates of the site in decimal degrees. For North America, latitude measurements should be recorded as positive values (north of the equator) and longitude measurements should be recorded as negative values (west of the International Data Line, which runs through Greenwich, England).
    For most simple hand-held GPS units, the antenna is located just above the screen. Therefore, hold the devise so that the screen is facing up and the unit is parallel to the ground. Hold the devise still in the location you are measuring for at least two minutes to get an accurate fix on your location.
  • At each location, remember to also record a brief description of the location, the type of land cover present, and the type of exposure the surface is currently receiving (sun, shade, mixed).
  • Step 4 –
    Take Measurements and Record Data

    1. Collect and record data according to your protocol. Before you leave each location, double-check that you have collected valid data for each of the fields on your table.
    2. To work through the heat island example, download the spreadsheet (Excel PRIVATE FILE 17kB Jun6 08) of temperature and land cover data and open it into Excel or another spreadsheet application.
    3. If you have access to a digital camera, capture and save digital images of each location. Add the photo number of each site onto the data collection chart. Later, you can link these images to your My World project file.

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