Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Laramie middle- and high-school students’ work showcased in 2012 AmericaView Fall Technical Meeting

Posters prepared by Laramie K-12 students on display in the main 
atrium of the USGS EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, SD

Three K-12 students from Laramie had a busy summer measuring surface temperatures of natural and man-made features and the spectral reflectance values of leaves. These research activities were part of WyomingView's Earth Observation Day activities. Their findings were showcased in the 2012 AmericaView Fall Technical Meeting in Sioux Falls, SD.

Arundathi Nair, an 5th grader in the Spring Creek Elementary School explored whether man-made surfaces (roads and concrete pavement) were hotter than a natural surface (grass lawn).  Her measurements taken at 10 am, 1 pm, and 6 pm revealed that temperature of all surfaces rose to their maximum values at 1 pm.  The temperature of the road was higher than that of concrete pavement.  Grass surface had the lowest temperature, which led her to conclude that man-made surfaces were hotter than natural surfaces.

Tire mulch mat installed in this park recorded an 
average temperature of 65°C (150 °F) at noon, while the
average temperature of the grass lawn and concrete
pavement were 
34°C and  25°C respectively
Sarah Arulsamy, an 8th grader in the Laramie Junior High School was also interested in how different urban features absorbed radiation at different times of the day.  She measured the surface temperature of concrete sidewalks, grass lawns, asphalt roads and tire mulch in a park (right) at 8 am, 12 am, 4 pm, and 8 pm.  She measured each features at four locations (except tire mulch which was measured at only one location) in her neighborhood on five days.  Her research revealed that the temperature of roads and pavement were higher than grass lawns at any time of the day.  She noticed that the surface of the tire mulch in the playground recorded the highest temperature 65°C (150 °F) at noon.

Changes in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index 
values of aspen and cottonwood leaves sampled in Laramie, WY

Mrudhula Baskaran a 10th grader at Laramie High School monitored spectral reflectance changes in aspen and cottonwood leaves.  Using an Alta II Reflectance Spectrometer she measured the spectral reflectance values of 10 leaves from each tree and computed the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).  She repeated these experiments on the 24th August, and the 2nd and 9th of September, 2012.  While the NDVI values of aspen trees declined during this period, the cottonwood trees showed no change.  This study helped her to see the relationship between the changes in leaf color and reflectance.

Thanks to Dr. Alan Buss, University of Wyoming, for loaning the infrared thermometer and Alta Spectroradiometer, and Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, University of Toledo, for providing the infrared thermometer used in these studies.