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Georgia Tech Climate Network

The physical context of the Georgia Institute of Technology campus is changing. In response to both global and local scale climate change, temperatures in the Atlanta region have been rising more rapidly than in previous decades. An analysis of urban and proximate rural temperature trends in major US cities finds Atlanta to be the third most rapidly warming metropolitan region in the country. With an increase in the incidence of extreme heat during the warm season, and higher temperatures generally throughout the year, the Georgia Tech campus and population is increasingly vulnerable to a growing range of health, outdoor comfort, and infrastructure-related impacts. More effective monitoring of climate trends on campus, in concert with climate-responsive design strategies, can lessen both the human impacts and infrastructure costs of rising temperatures.

In response to these trends, the Georgia Institute of Technology's Urban Climate Lab has established a dense network of temperature and relative humidity sensors throughout campus to identify the location of hot spots, measure the impact of ongoing development on micro-climatic conditions, and assess how the use of vegetation and cool materials around campus can moderate warming trends. The network consists of 24 HOBO sensors across the entire campus, representing many micro-climatic conditions including both 3-meter and rooftop locations. Several sensors are located in areas scheduled to transition from impervious surfaces to green space, and will therefore record the impact of these changes on climate. This study is the first of its kind for a US university and lays the groundwork for the establishment of a more extensive network across the Atlanta metropolitan region.

Below are two Georgia Tech campus maps displaying urban heat island (UHI) intensity for average minimum and maximum air temperatures over July 2015. The maps show air temperature differences between select campus locations (black circles) and a nearby natural space, the urban forest within the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which serves as our rural reference point for air temperature comparison.

Urban heat island intensity, minimum air temperature (July 2015)

Urban heat island intensity, maximum air temperature (July 2015)

The map below shows the locations of each temperature sensor in the Georgia Tech Climate Network. Each sensor location may contain a variety of surface materials or sources of shading, but the color of each circle indicates the dominant land cover type for each sensor.

Dr. Brian Stone, Evan Mallen, Kevin Lanza