Investigating Urban Heat Island effects in the classroom through authentic scientific experiences

Friday, 11 December 2020
Alejandro A Mundo, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, United States; Kingsbridge International High School,, Bronx, NY, United States, Equisha Glenn, The City College of the City University of New York, New York, United States, Natasha Stamler, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States, Gabrielle Pina, Baruch College Campus High School, New York, United States and Christian Braneon, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, United States
Cities that are growing at a fast pace in the world are notable entities of innovation and city development. As population keeps increasing in these urban settings, the need to understand urban climates has ignited much interest and discussion among our society. Due to more than a population increase, but ecological concerns and city developmental projects, land surface temperature records keep intensifying with much warmer temperatures than nearby rural areas, making cities experience the Urban Heat Island phenomenon.

Among the causes of death in the United States related to natural hazards, heat is the underrated killer. Due to the Urban Heat Island effects and Earth’s changing climate, the number of cities exposed to extreme heat will nearly triple in the upcoming decades. In an attempt to mitigate climate impacts, cities have begun to take steps towards building green infrastructure and creating urban design interventions.

With this curriculum, high school students are exposed to a variety of authentic research experiences as young scientists where they engage with climate simulation models, analyze temperature models, explore climate satellite instruments, explain the urban heat island phenomenon, access remote sensing imagery, record and share land surface temperature data and build a capstone project that focuses on climate change, urban heat island effects and mitigation factors. Furthermore, this curriculum enhances the scientific understanding of Earth as a system and its response towards natural and human-induced changes in order to allow students to build their knowledge and experiences on climate, weather and natural hazards.