Variations in Heat Absorption and Release of Earth Surfaces During Fall in Laramie, Wyoming

(1) Laramie Middle School, (2) Wyoming GIS Center, University of Wyoming

All Earth surfaces absorb heat at different rates and release it afterwards. If surfaces release less heat than they absorb, they will remain warmer. Heat retained by man-made surfaces and human activities are the two major contributors of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect witnessed in cities worldwide. Though the effects of UHI are well studied in summer and winter months, UHI effects are not widely studied in other seasons and smaller cities. We conducted this study to document the contributions of man-made surfaces in Laramie, Wyoming to the UHI effect. Heat absorption and release by five surfaces were measured in the autumn of 2018. We hypothesized that heat retention by all surfaces will vary throughout the fall season due to differences in ambient air temperature. We recorded temperatures of man-made and natural surfaces at early morning, mid-afternoon, and evening using an infrared thermometer. Results from this study showed that man-made surfaces retained more heat in fall than natural surfaces. The amount of heat retained by all surfaces was higher in early fall and less in late fall. Presence of smoke, haze, snow, and clouds altered the pattern of heat absorption and release. Future studies could expand to other cities, include more surfaces, and measure temperature more frequently to estimate their contribution to UHI.

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