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American Meteorological Society features ASU research

April cover image of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
May 01, 2012

The April 2012 issue of meteorology’s most prominent journal, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), features ASU research on Phoenix’s urban heat island as its lead story, and a second article by ASU researchers as well.

Urban Heat Island Research in Phoenix, Arizona: Theoretical Contributions and Policy Applications” is authored by Winston Chow, who earned his doctorate in geography in 2011, together with two School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning faculty members, Dean Brennan, faculty associate, and Anthony Brazel, Professor Emeritus.

The article points out that research on Phoenix’s characteristics as an urban heat island (UHI) is more extensive than for other large US cities such as New York and Los Angeles, and asks “What factors motivated the development of UHI study in Phoenix?” 

The question is answered by a comprehensive review of Phoenix UHI research, which demonstrates that that a strong partnership between ASU researchers, the National Weather Service and key stakeholders – private energy firms and municipal governments – has played a critical role.  Interdisciplinary study under the auspices of ASU’s Office of Climatology and the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP-LTER) project has contributed significantly to theoretical understanding of the UHI phenomenon.  At the same time, the close partnerships with stakeholders have fostered successful implementation of several sustainable urban climate policies based on the research findings. The city of Phoenix’s Downtown Phoenix Urban Form Project provides one example of how research has informed municipal policy.  This study, carried out in the process of preparing a form-based code for downtown Phoenix, identified specific recommendations for addressing UHI mitigation and pedestrian comfort for the central city, and identified principles that could be applied throughout the metropolitan area and in other warm urban climates.

The second article authored by ASU geographers is “Seasonality in European Red Dust/“Blood” Rain Events,” by doctoral student Joshua White, Presidents’ Professor Randall Cerveny and professor Robert Balling Jr.  This research investigates the occurrence of “red rains,” relatively rare meteorological phenomena associated with Saharan dust being transported across Europe. After assembling an archive of these events that occurred throughout Europe, and looking at the season and conditions under which these events occurred, the authors found a climatic consistency to the seasonality and synoptic conditions in which red rains occurred. They point out that tabulation of events such as these “may provide a new gauge of climate change because of their past relative rarity.”

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has a top impact factor rating in the field of meteorology and atmospheric sciences, a measure based on how frequently articles in the journal are cited.

Chow is currently a research fellow in ASU’s Department of Engineering, College of Technology and Innovation, and holds a concurrent appointment with the National University of Singapore’s Department of Geography. In addition to his affiliation with the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Brazel is a senior sustainability scholar with ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

Barbara Trapido-Lurie,
School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning