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Measuring Surface Heat in New York City

In cities as large as the Big Apple, the temperature varies at different locations based on the setting, structures and area. For example, a place like Brighton Beach compared to Midtown Manhattan would obviously have different temperatures on the surfaces that make up those places. A busy city and a calm shoreline are composed of different material, whether that’s manmade or natural creation, the temperature they would each have is significantly different. The lab focusing on surface temperatures broke down some possible explanations and ideas as to why different surfaces and locations, along with the weather as a factor, are all different with either a little to no difference in temperature or a large difference in the heat or coolness of the surfaces.

With the lab explaining how to obtain temperature samples of different surfaces, along with including cloudy/shady weather or in sunny conditions, these factors would already affect how the temperatures recorded would vary. Surfaces that had to be recorded included cement, pavement, grass and dirt/soil. Two being manmade surfaces and the other two being natural sources with no effects of manmade material. Immediately noticeable was that these surfaces in cloudy conditions would be cooler than those receiving sunlight. However, as more of these surfaces were recorded, the manmade surfaces were noted to have a higher temperature than natural ones, such as dirt and grass. Because these temperatures would be recorded in Celsius as well, the differences between manmade surfaces and natural ones wouldn’t be a huge difference compared to Fahrenheit temperatures. Based on the temperatures recorded for all surfaces, the conclusion we came to is that manmade surfaces such as cement and pavement would have higher temperatures recorded than natural surfaces such as grass and dirt. This was also applied to surfaces in cloudy conditions in the shade, with cement and pavement still having a slightly warmer temperature than natural ones. There are a few explanations as to why this may have been the case.

When recording temperatures for the natural surfaces, such as the dirt and grass, these would be recorded at a lower temperature. This could be because surfaces like these require a source of water vapor, which would be contained in these surfaces. The water vapor would have an effect on the temperature as it would cause it the be cooler than the manmade surface, which doesn’t require any water vapor. With the added water vapor in these sources, these would cool down the heat being received from the air or the direct sunlight, decreasing the initial temperature. As for the manmade surfaces being warmer than natural ones, it could be that because these surfaces are composed of material that don’t require water vapor or absorb any form of water, they would receive much more heat coming from the sun. These surfaces would absorb much more heat, causing them to heat up more easily and increase the surface temperature overall. This heat would also be reflected up from the surface, which would also explain the slight heat one could feel before contacting the actual surface. These explanations could be reasonable because soil, grass and dirt do need water vapor to fertilize the ground, and pavements along with cement don’t absorb water vapor to cool down on hot days. This experiment has also allowed me to understand the different factors that come into play as to why some areas in cities may be warmer or cooler than other locations. In a city like New York, the temperature of a surface may vary based on where one could be.

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