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Research Assistant to Dr. Stuart Gaffin at Columbia University

Intern, Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

New York, NY

October 2015-August 2018

Starting in the Fall of 2015, I worked as a research assistant at Columbia University in the lab of Dr. Stuart Gaffin to develop a proxy that would allow the measuring of air temperature using an infrared camera. This new methodology would make mobile air temperature measurements more efficient, consistent, and precise. This work culminated in the summer of 2016 during the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI). I tested various proxy materials at the NOAA Central Park weather station (station designation KNYC) to compare the proxy materials’ performance to that of the weather station. During the following summer, I returned to CCRI to measure the accuracy of the proxy over both gray and green infrastructure by comparing its temperature readings to air temperature readings from weather stations at several sites.



I created a schematic of the methodology. The umbrella protects the paper from solar radiation and the stick protects it from body heat


I took the thermal images using a FLIR T650sc infrared camera


I extracted data using FLIR Tools and Microsoft Excel.


I was responsible for all of the FLIR thermal image analysis and creating all of the figures in the final journal article


By comparing the proxy performance to the official NOAA weather station in Central Park, we concluded that the best proxy material of those tested was simple white copy paper.


We then performed fieldwork at sites around New York City to begin analyzing the effect of cool infrastructures on air temperature. Two key sites were used to access the proxy's accuracy: Central Park (station designation KNYC), which represented green infrastructure, and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) in Palisades, NY (station designation KNYPALIS3), whose gray rooftop surrounded by parking lots represented gray infrastructure.


At a height of 2 meters (the same height as the weather stations), the proxy performed accurately at both locations, with an accuracy of 86% at LDEO and 87% at Central Park. This demonstrated that the proxy and the thermal camera were in fact accurate tools to measure near-surface air temperature.


Interning at GISS and Columbia University was my first exposure to research. I learned about the importance of communication in science by giving my first professional research presentations. I especially enjoyed presenting at the poster symposiums, where I could walk around and learn about the incredible work performed by other groups researching climate, including NOAA and the City College of New York. Through this research I co-authored my first peer-reviewed journal article.


CCRI 2016 final presentation


CUNY CREST Summer Symposium 2016

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