8.5 Urban Heat Island Investigations, Geospatial Technology Applications, and Service Learning Outreach

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 11:30 AM
Room 353 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
David Padgett, Tennessee State Univ., Nashville, TN

The Tennessee State University (TSU), located on two urban campuses in Nashville, Tennessee, is a designated Historically Black College and University (HBCU) with approximately 9,000 students.  The TSU Geographic Information Sciences Laboratory, founded in the year 2000, is committed to providing students from populations under-represented in the earth sciences opportunities to engage in hands-on research.  The 2013 My Community, Our Earth (http://www.mycoe.org) project “Exploring the Impacts of Urban Heat Islands using Geospatial Technology,” was a service-learning outreach partnership during which TSU students enrolled in the Weather and Climate (GEOG 3500) course developed and delivered a learning activity for students in an Advanced Placement (AP) Geography course at Stratford STEM Magnet High School.  Stratford's student body is approximately 68 percent African American with 91 percent qualifying for the free and reduced price lunch program.  The urban heat island phenomenon is of interest to African American and other students of color as it has significant health and quality of life impacts upon large city populations, especially residents of vulnerable communities.   The study of the urban heat island effect is holistic encompassing atmospheric, health, and social sciences.  The outdoor exercise at Stratford primarily followed the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program (http://www.globe.gov) Atmosphere Protocol for collecting surface temperature and cloud cover data.  The absolute locations of the sample points were logged using Garmin GPS receivers and then mapped using ArcGIS Online (http://arcg.is/1oiD379).  The on-the-ground temperature observations were compared to ambient air temperatures recorded by Stratford's WeatherBug (http://achieve.weatherbug.com/) weather station.  In summer 2014, the service learning site moved to Pearl-Cohn High School.  Pearl-Cohn's student body is approximately 93 percent African American with 93 percent qualifying for the free and reduced price lunch program.  The urban heat islands investigation methodology was replicated using infrared thermometers to measure surface cover temperatures, which were compared to TSU's Weatherbug station ambient air temperatures.  The infrared thermometers provided students with clearer observations of the differences in temperature between human-built land cover versus green space.  The Pearl-Cohn exercise temperature sample point locations were logged using Garmin GPS receivers and then mapped using ArcGIS Online (http://arcg.is/1IdAInT).  During the 2014-2015 academic year the project continued, supported by a Map Your World “Nexus 7 Tablet Grant” (http://mapyourworld.org/#/teachers).  In fall 2014, TSU students taking Cartography (GEOG 3100) and World Regional Geography (GEOG 1020) led Pearl-Cohn High School students in an exercise meant to answer the question “Do Measured Surface Temperatures Increase as We Move Toward Downtown Nashville?”  After conducting research on urban heat islands, the students hypothesized that there would be an inverse relationship between surface temperatures and distance away from the city center due to the expected increase in greenspace in the suburbs.  Average daily and average high temperature data from Weatherbug stations throughout middle Tennessee were collected and then entered into Google Nexus 7 Tablets.  The “ODK Collect” application was used to plot the station locations onto the Map Your World map portal (http://mapyourworld.org/#/maps/pchsgisf14/16948?owner=true).  The students examined the map to determine if the hypothesis held true, and if not, assess and discuss possible reasons for any unexpected surface temperature variations.  The summer 2015 Weather and Climate (GEOG 3500) class developed and field tested an outdoor urban heat island exercise for high school students entitled “What is the Relationship Between Various Land Cover Surfaces (i.e. grass, trees, concrete, etc) and Surface Temperatures?”  The lesson is designed to educe questions and discussions among students about the relationships between various land cover surfaces and observed temperatures.  Students will note the potential for urban heat islands mitigation via landscape design and green infrastructure development.  The Nexus 7 tablets were used in place of the Garmin GPS units, eliminating the need for manually writing down the latitude/longitude and attribute data onto paper forms, and then entering it into Excel spreadsheets.  The ODK Collect application loaded onto the Nexus 7 tablets allowed for real-time mapping of the surface temperature data (http://mapyourworld.org/#/maps/pchsgisf14/51731?owner=true).  The lesson concludes with the surface temperature point location data being downloaded from the Map Your World portal in comma delimited (*.CSV) format and then plotted onto the ArcGIS Online platform.  The multiple layer symbol functions of ArcGIS Online allows for students to visually compare various land cover temperatures to ambient air temperatures, TSU's Weatherbug station, in this case (http://arcg.is/1GmJTCY). The service learning outreach associated with this experience requires collegians to thoroughly understand the physical, social, and health science content associated with urban heat islands in order to effectively impart the information to younger learners.  The high school students are motivated to be engaged in learning the earth science content due to their closeness in age and social context to the college students.  All of the students have the advantage of learning via hands-on engagement making somewhat complex and unfamiliar meteorology, climate science, and geospatial technology concepts somewhat easier to interpret.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner