Microclimates

From the coast to the foothills.

As part of National Science Week 2022, the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Libraries with support from a National Science Week SA Community Grant is developing a Microclimate Citizen Science project. Called From the coast to the foothills and we are looking not only to provide learning opportunities during Science Week but also to involve our community in the project leading up to August. Attend our IoT Experimenters Group or contact Robert Hart at PAE Libraries if you would like to be involved.

Our aim is the deployment of an open-source sensor array located at each of our five libraries to measure microclimates across the City of Port Adelaide Enfield from the coast to the foothills of Adelaide, South Australia. Libraries include Semaphore, Port Adelaide, Parks, Enfield, and Greenacres Library.

Semaphore, Port Adelaide, Parks, Enfield, and Greenacres Library locations

The Library will provide accessible open information for our community about microclimates in those locations’ temperature, humidity and CO2 levels. Accessible on a website and at our libraries to display live data trends in their local area, and compare them with neighbouring areas and broader climate information available with the Bureau of Meteorology. This will include open-source instructions for communities and schools on how to build similar sensors like at our IoT workshops in the Library and other outreach activities. We will also be inviting local citizen scientists, community groups, experts and interested people to be actively involved in the development, deployment and monitoring of these systems. This may include additional locations and adding other sensor types over time.

Accessible information about how microclimates affect our quality of life in urban and suburban areas is important in a democracy. Communities that are better informed about science subjects can make better decisions and discuss solutions with friends, family and politically. We also feel communities who are better informed about their local area are more likely to appreciate the importance of protecting the environment, waterways, parks and natural spaces. Also, about sustainable buildings, city planning and environmental protection regulations.

More details:
IoT overview: https://stemlibrary.space/iot-microclimate/
Senor construction: https://stemlibrary.space/microclimate-sensor/

What are Microclimates?
A microclimate is a local set of atmospheric conditions that differ from the surrounding area, often with slight differences, but sometimes substantially. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square meters or as large as many square kilometres. Microclimates can not only affect temperature, but also rainfall, air pressure, and wind. That means that it can increase the frequency of fog, the intensity of storms, the concentration of polluted air, and how long it remains.

Unintentional urban microclimates
Several factors go into creating unhealthy urban microclimates. Human-generated heat is a big part of it and much of that is caused by things like internal combustion car engines that use fossil fuels. Cars also add pollutants and humidity to the air. All of the heat-retaining paved space needed for cars simply makes matters worse.

Poor building construction and design also play a part, specifically wasteful energy consumption, shoddy insulating materials, and inefficient building management practices. And short-sighted urban planning of the height and arrangement of buildings can create stifling canyons of urban heat.

Undesirable urban microclimates are a global phenomenon. In Atlanta, the number of thunderstorms rises in line with increases in road traffic. In the 1950s, London’s naturally occurring fog became denser and more polluted by the increase in car traffic and coal-fired energy emissions.

The most-reported effect that appears in the media has been urban heat islands (UHI). In Melbourne, temperatures increased to 1.13°C higher than in the surrounding less-urbanized areas. And average temperatures in Tokyo have risen by 3°C over the past century, while only rising 1°C for the country as a whole. These higher temperatures then create a ripple effect on air movements. And they’re expensive: the UHI of Los Angeles generates additional energy costs of $100 million per year. Combining these with the significant impacts coming from climate change it is important for communities to understand this problem, prepare, discuss and communicate their concerns to our political representatives.

More information about microclimates can be found here: