European Space Agency´s Climate Detectives in Malaga

Welcomed by the European Topic Centre (ETC-UMA) and the Institute of Geomorphology and Soil (IGS) in Malaga, a team of 15 climate detective students from the IES Mayorazgo Secondary School came to the Ada Byron Research facilities of the University of Malaga on 11 March 2020 to find out more about our climate, how to understand it and what can be done to influence it.

Under the supervision of their science teacher Carmen Guerra, the participants in this ESA Climate Detective project had the opportunity to explore with a team of scientists satellite and sampling work technologies and research modalities to analyze the “urban heat island” effect,  a phenomenon that occurs when an urban or metropolitan area becomes significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities.

With the target of  developing recommendations for local actions to prevent this urban heat island effects, the Climate Detectives study

  • The influence of environmental parameters in the context of climate change;
  • Environmental factors that affect the temperature as related to the urban heat island effect; and
  • The functioning of different kinds of sensors to measure the air temperature, soil moisture, UV radiation, and CO2 among others.

During the visit, the students received first hand insights about how this topic is treated at European and global scale, and how their experimental measurements at school are being undertaken at the University laboratories with more advanced information technologies.

To start with, the ETC-UMA team explained how to use satellite images to collect information on terrestrial and atmospheric environment variables, thanks to the open and free data offered by the Copernicus Programme, and how to visualize these data in maps through the EO Browser of the Sentinel-Hub.

The detectives had also the opportunity to visit an analysis laboratory, where the director of UMA’s Soil Institute, José Damián Sinoga, described and answered questions from the young detectives on how soil samples are analyzed and how the degree of soil degradation can be estimated using different analytical techniques. A key clue discovered during the visit: we need more soil and less concrete to diminish the heat island effect!

The ESA Climate Detectives of IES Mayorazgo will present shortly the results of their research and the recommendations during a local event in Malaga and to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Good luck from our side and congratulations to this great initiative to raise awareness about climate change and adaptation measures!