Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Team Finds Atlanta Influences Its Own Weather

Date:
March 29, 1999
Source:
Marshall Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA research has found Atlanta influences its own weather. When trees and foliage are replaced with structures, the structures absorb heat, maintaining higher temperatures into the evening. The higher temperatures create a low air pressure dome, which pulls in cool air. The resulting wind pushes up hot air to trigger thunderstorms.

Atlanta’s urban expansion and its heating effects actually can influence the area’s weather, according to a study led by scientists at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The three-year analysis of Atlanta’s land-use temperature and air-quality found that large urban areas like Atlanta are warmed to create their own "heat islands."

The heat islands are created by removal of trees, addition of tall buildings and paving of land. During the day, dark materials like asphalt and roofing absorb heat and hold it long after the Sun sets, maintaining higher temperatures than rural areas.

During the study, researchers examined a one-month period in July 1996 when temperatures averaged 8-10 degrees Fahrenheit higher in the urban Atlanta area than in the outlying rural areas.

According to researchers, that temperature difference created localized weather effects, causing at least six thunderstorms during that month.

Led by Marshall Center’s Dr. Dale Quattrochi and Dr. Jeffrey Luvall, the study found when Atlanta heats up during the day, a surface thermal low air pressure dome is created, then the low pressure causes cool air to be pulled in from surrounding areas. The resulting wind convergence creates an upward flow motion, pushing up the hot air to trigger thunderstorms.

The scientists also found the higher temperatures double the occurrence of the chemical reaction that creates ozone, a major contributor to smog. Atlanta has the longest average commute of any metropolitan area, 34 miles.

The complete study findings were presented by team members Wednesday, March 24, at a meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Researchers from four major universities assisted NASA Earth scientists in the Atlanta study. The weather patterns were discovered by team members Robert Bornstein and Qing Lu Lin, both meteorologists at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. Robert Gillies, a geographer at Utah State University in Logan City, used satellite data from an instrument aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite to map the heat coming off Atlanta’s urban area. The study included a 17-square mile intense hot zone in Atlanta’s central business district.

The Atlanta area’s population growth was investigated by geographers Chor-Pang Lo and Xiojun Yang of the University of Georgia in Athens. By studying aerial and satellite photos, they tracked vegetation loss and construction increases since 1973.

Between 1973 and 1998, 350,000 acres of forest have been replaced mainly by suburbs, according to their findings. Low-density residential areas -- mainly single-family homes -- have doubled to almost 670,000 acres. Meteorologists Stanley Kidder and Jan Hafner, of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, are using Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite and Landsat data to study how cloud cover tends to decrease ozone production by blocking sunlight and cooling the ground surface. The researchers have used their findings to make recommendations for lowering the city’s temperature, combating the urban heat island and its potentially harmful side effects.

Quattrochi recommends light colored roads, roofs and parking lots, which would reflect instead of absorbing heat. Replacing trees and vegetation also could significantly lower temperatures.

The study findings have been submitted to the Georgia state legislature for consideration.

Note to Editors / News Directors: Interviews, photos and video supporting this release are available to media representatives by contacting Tim Tyson of the Marshall Media Relations Office at (256) 544-0034 For an electronic version of this release, digital images or more information, visit Marshall's News Center on the Web at: http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/news


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Marshall Space Flight Center. "NASA Team Finds Atlanta Influences Its Own Weather." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990325104705.htm>.
Marshall Space Flight Center. (1999, March 29). NASA Team Finds Atlanta Influences Its Own Weather. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990325104705.htm
Marshall Space Flight Center. "NASA Team Finds Atlanta Influences Its Own Weather." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990325104705.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins