Philadelphia, Houston, Hong Kong, AND London!

Research and Work

For the past two weeks, I have been working on creating Local Climate Zone maps for the US cities of Houston, TX and Philadelphia, PA. Each area of land in a city can be divided into a specific climate zone category. These categories include: compact and open high-rise, compact and open mid-rise, compact and open low-rise, lightweight lowrise, large low-rise, sparsely built, heavy industry, dense trees, scattered trees, bush/scrub, low plants, rock/paved, bare soil/sand, and water. I first outlined 10 to 20 areas of land that fit in to each category using Google Earth. Next, I downloaded several satellite images of the region of interest on GIS and downloaded them onto SAGA. This software allows a map to be generated on Google Earth which shows the climate zones of each area in the city based on the examples I had given the program. I enjoy doing this project because it allows me to explore the layout of each of these cities on Google Earth. To categorize each area, I must investigate the ground cover, height of the buildings, building materials used, and vegetation within the boundaries. These factors all greatly influence the groundlevel temperature of the city. For example, if there is a high density of high-rise buildings in the center of a city, which is represented by the dark red areas, there will be a lot of heat released to the surroundings because of the energy expended by humans and their activities. Heat is trapped in these areas because pavement on the ground prevents the heat from transferring into the soil. Additionally, hot air is retained more in-between buildings than it would be in an open space. This phenomenon is known as the heat island effect, and is one of the key issues studied at the Institute of Future Cities at CUHK.


The first Friday of my trip, I went to the nearby city and shopping hub, Sha Tin. While I was there, I went to the shopping center, visited the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, and went to the market for groceries. The following day I took a ferry ride around the islands of Hong Kong to get a feel for the Tsim Shs Tsui area. On Friday the 23rd, I flew to London to meet with my friends. I will be here until July 1st and cannot wait to explore more of the city. Since I have been here, I have taken a boat ride through the River Thames, ridden the train to Oxford, Bath, and Cheltenham, and walked all throughout the city of London. In Oxford, my friend and I visited the Oxford University Campus, and then took the train to Blenheim Palace where Winston Churchill grew up. In Bath, we had high tea at a café that was clinging to the side of a bridge over-looking the town. We saw Wicked in Piccadilly Circus and visited the John Snow water pump in SoHo where the first Cholera outbreak was identified in 1854. I was really excited to see the water pump because it is mentioned in nearly every environmental engineering class I’ve taken at Berkeley. I am so excited to be here for four more days. More updates to come!