Investigator:

Kevin Currey

Advisor: John Wargo

Description:

Much research has been conducted on the ways in which mountains affect regional climates. However, much less effort has been devoted to understanding the microclimates of mountains themselves. Within a few tens of kilometers, surface temperatures may fluctuate by as much as several degrees Celsius. For example, lake surfaces may be much colder than the surrounding land. Forests may be cooler than adjacent pastures. Because of the urban heat island effect, surface temperatures in cities may be several degrees higher than those in the surrounding suburbs. But despite these qualitative observations, there have been few direct quantitative studies examining the factors that control land surface temperature.

This study examines several independent variables that control the dependent variable of surface temperature. It focuses especially on the effect of the temperature of the free atmosphere and on the effect of solar heating (controlled by the sun incidence angle and surface albedo). The current goal of the project is to identify and model other variables influencing surface temperature. Eventually, this research will help develop a complete model of the heat budget at the Earth's surface, applicable in a variety of regions, that will be useful for change detection.