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Recording the Difference Between Land Surface Temperatures in Shade & Sun

For the fourth lab in my physics of natural disasters course we were asked to split into four groups to record both the current air and land surface temperatures in Columbus Park. We were also asked to record the land surface temperatures in both the shade and the sun. This experiment showed the difference between land surface temperatures in the shade and the sun. Through this difference, the sun’s impact on land surface temperatures is shown, showing the relationship between the sun and an increase in land surface temperatures. This relationship relates strongly to climate change because it shows how as the temperature from the sun along with greenhouse gases increases, the land surface temperatures also increase. According to ClimateSignals, such increases in land surface temperatures “…affect glaciers, ice sheets, permafrost, and the vegetation in Earth’s ecosystems.” (ClimateSignals).

To begin this experiment, the first three things we were given were an infrared camera and an air temperature reader along with the sheet to record our findings. First, we took notice of our current weather conditions, which we noted as cool, cloudy, and a little sunny. The second thing we did was take a recording of the current air temperature using the air temperature reader provided by the professor, which we noted as 17.7°C. We then recorded the the latitude and longitude of where we were, which was 40.69 and –73.98, respectively. The next step was to record the land surface temperatures of various surface types, consisting of pavement, cement, dirt, and grass in the shade and sun. Although we recorded that the weather was partially sunny out, the sun was not shining onto the ground in the park, thus we were only able to record the shade temperatures. Utilizing the infrared camera given to us, we recorded the shade temperature for each of these four surfaces three times to produce an average surface temperature. The resulting average temperatures for each surface were 17.03°C, 16.16°C, 13.9°C, and 13.9°C, respectively. From these results, we concluded that pavement and cement were the hottest surfaces. Conversely, grass and dirt were the coolest surfaces. We believe this was the case because of the different chemical makeup of these surfaces. We also noted that the air temperature did not change during the experiment, which we concluded was because of the sun going down along and Columbus Park being in the shade for the entire experiment.

Overall, this experiment showed us how land surface temperatures can drastically vary between different surfaces. Although we were not able to record the land surface temperatures of any of the surfaces in the sun, we believe that the temperatures of the surface would show a noticeable increase in temperature on the surface regardless of what kind of surface it was. It is important to keep land surface temperatures in mind when studying climate change because the sun’s heat directly affects the land surface temperatures, which contributes to greenhouse gases. If nothing is done about the ongoing climate change, these temperatures will keep going up and will contribute to future disasters. If we want to reverse these effects, we will need to cease using anything that emits greenhouse gases such as CO2. However, that is unlikely to happen soon. If it miraculously does happen, we would need to keep our emissions to zero for at least a decade until we see begin to see the climate return to what it was in the 1850’s. I am hoping that one day soon, we will make the changes necessary to halt climate change and start the process of reversing both climate change and the negative effects that came with it.


Works Cited

“Climate Change Impacts Explained in Real Time.” Climate Change Impacts on Land Temperature Increase, www.climatesignals.org/climate-signals/land-surface-temperature-increase. Accessed 28 Oct. 2023.

Photo credit: Lazin-Ryder, Matthew. “The Ongoing Search for the Perfect Climate Change Metaphor.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 5 Jan. 2022, www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-ongoing-search-for-the-perfect-climate-change-metaphor-1.5972756.


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