Sunday, 13 January 2002
The Columbia (MO) heat island experiment or "COHIX"
The Heat Island effect (HIE) is a well known feature in the microclimate of urban areas and many studies have examined this effect for large cities. Few studies have addressed the HIE for medium-sized urban areas. This study examines the combined impact of Columbia, MO and the University of Missouri campus on the microclimate of central Missouri. Temperature and precipitation were the primary variables examined. Several students (both majors and non-majors), community volunteers, staff, and faculty at the University of Missouri volunteered to provide readings over a one-year period of study. Twenty Radio ShackŪ digital Max/Min thermometers were purchased and given to participants who were chosen for their reliability to provide data and to site the instrument, and their location (in order to provide reasonable coverage locally). Also included in the data set was information provided by area automated weather stations, a cooperative weather station, and the weather station at the Columbia Regional Airport located 7 miles southeast of Columbia. Results indicate that the City of Columbia, MO has a discernable effect on the distribution of monthly precipitation totals. Also, when examining the monthly mean temperatures, there is a distinct urban influence on the local surface temperatures. In particular, the inner city region and the built up area of south Columbia tend to be 2 - 3 F warmer than the surrounding environment. This difference grows to 3 - 6 F when comparing the warmest station in the city to the coolest station outside Columbia. There is also a seasonal influence evident as the HIE is more evident in the mean monthly maximum (minimum) temperatures during the warmest (coldest) months. Finally, this project served to educate meteorology majors and non-majors about topics such as instrumentation and experimentation by providing a hands-on research experience. This experiment served as the nucleus for the development of an instrumentation class.