87th AMS Annual Meeting

Sunday, 14 January 2007
Preliminary results of a new laboratory exercise to study microscale spatial temperature changes on a university campus
Exhibit Hall C (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Steven B. Newman, Central Connecticut State Univ., New Britain, CT
Poster PDF (1.4 MB)
A new laboratory exercise was developed and implemented during the Spring, 2006 semester in the Introductory Meteorology curriculum at Central Connecticut State University. Students in the lab, using handheld electronic digital thermometers were dispatched to 21 different locations, covering the entire campus. Each team of two students was responsible for recording the temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit, to the nearest tenth of a degree) at two different points. Fahrenheit, rather than Celsius temperatures were used due to the finer resolution of the Fahrenheit scale. The measurement process took about 30 minutes.

Students returned to the lab and recorded their measurements on a table that was posted on the board at the front of the lab room. Once all the students had posted their observations, the class plotted the temperature values at all 21 points on the campus map and performed an isothermal analysis (one degree Fahrenheit contour interval). The resulting pattern has been seen to change on a daily basis, reflecting changes in prevailing weather, wind direction, and building heat and traffic patterns. In addition, there are numerous elevation changes from one side of the University campus to the other, adding additional temperature effects related to altitude change.

After analyzing the temperature pattern, students discussed the probable causes for the current pattern of warm and cold. These lead directly to a discussion on microclimate and heat island effects, both important topics in the Intro Meteorology curriculum.

One example of an analyzed map, from the Spring, 2006 semester, is included in this abstract (Fig. 1). Additional examples from the Spring and Fall, 2006 semesters will be presented at the conference.

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