The Columbia, Missouri, Heat Island Experiment (COHIX) and the Influence of a Small City on the Local Climatology
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The heat island effect is a well known feature in the microclimate of urban areas but only a few studies have addressed the effect for smaller urban areas. We examine here the impact of Columbia, Missouri and the University of Missouri campus on the microclimate (temperature and precipitation) of central Missouri. We purchased twenty Radio Shack® digital Max/Min thermometers and ten standard raised-edge rain gauges and these were given to students, staff, and faculty participants who were chosen for their reliability to provide daily data over the course of a year, site the instrument, and their location (in order to provide reasonable coverage locally). We also included information provided by automated and cooperative weather stations, and the weather station at the regional airport located 11 km (7 miles) southeast of Columbia. Our results indicate that the city has no discernable impact on the distribution of monthly precipitation totals. We found a distinct urban influence on the local surface temperatures, and the inner city region and the urbanized area of south Columbia were approximately 2 - 3 oF (1.0 - 1.5 oC) warmer in the mean than the surrounding environment. This difference grows to 3 - 6 oF (1.5 - 3.5 oC) when comparing the mean of the warmest station in the city to that of coolest station outside Columbia. We also observed a seasonal influence, as the heat island effect was more evident in the mean monthly maximum (minimum) temperatures during the warmest (coldest) months.
Transactions of the Missouri Academy of Science Volume 38