BSc Geography student, Chloe Barnes, tested the microclimate in Gangtok, Sikkim

Chloe Barnes undertook the Level 3 Geography/Biology fieldtrip to Sikkim, India in the autumn

Chloe BarnesHer project focused on the urban heat island of Gangtok and the influence of vegetation on urban temperatures. Gangtok operates as the capital and primate city for the Himalayan state of Sikkim in India. The city has experienced rapid population growth and expansion in recent decades. As a result, the study focused on the effects of this increased urbanisation upon the local microclimate, with particular attention to the variation in temperature across the city and the influence of vegetation upon urban temperatures. Thermochron iButton® sensors were used to take simultaneous temperature recordings every 10 minutes at 5 locations across Gangtok. The topography of the city however, resulted in contrasting altitudes for each of the 5 sites. Subsequently, the influence of changing altitude across the sites was eliminated using environmental lapse rates based on the relative humidity recordings. The presence of an urban heat island within the city was noted; however the limited period of data collection meant that no conclusions could be made regarding its magnitude or intensity. It was also noted that significantly higher temperatures were recorded within the pedestrianized urban centre in comparison to the city park (Ridge Park). Factors attributed to this marked temperature difference included changing surface characteristics; anthropogenic heat inputs; and cooling through evapotranspiration. Within the park itself it was also noted that iButton sensors situated within shaded locations recorded significantly lower temperatures than those exposed to sunlight. As a result it was acknowledged that vegetation could significantly contribute to improving thermal comfort for the residents of Gangtok.

Read more about students’ experiences in Sikkim -
http://www.swansea.ac.uk/geography/undergraduate/indianhimalayasfieldcourse/