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Researchers spend day mapping heat in Eugene area

While most Oregonians look for relief from the heat, researchers from Portland State University are out in the conditions trying to find temperature hot spots in Eugene and Springfield. They say their research can help city planners improve conditions during heat waves like the one we're experiencing right now. The team set out Friday to conduct samples in all day parts: early morning, afternoon, and night. (SBG/Anthony Kustura)

EUGENE, Ore. - While most Oregonians look for relief from the heat, researchers from Portland State University are out in the conditions trying to find temperature hot spots in Eugene and Springfield.

They say their research can help city planners improve conditions during heat waves like the one we're experiencing right now.

The team set out Friday to conduct samples in all day parts: early morning, afternoon, and night.

"Think of it as a snapshot of the heat in different moments in time," said Jackson Voelkel, a geospatial research analyst at PSU.

The researchers say the way in which a city is planned can play a major role in what kind of temperatures that area experiences.

Because Lane County has so many types of land, Scott Altonhoff from the city's park and open spaces department invited the men to assist with their research.

"Although we've known for a long time instinctually that areas with tall trees and abundant trees are cooler, this will give us very specific information," said Altonhoff.

Farm Land is harder to come by in the greater Portland metro area, so this task presented itself to be a new challenge.

Their test sites span from one area in Springfield to four regions in Eugene, ranging from farm land, to residential, to industrial businesses.

"What we're trying to do is to cool areas that are disproportionately hot throughout the city," said Dr. Vivek Shandas, a professor of urban studies and environmental science.

Fortunately, they pack light. A simple tool mounts to a car door and the thermometer logs the temperature.

"We only test for an hour so we can isolate just that temperature during that time period," added Shandas.

The data is then transferred to the computer labs at Portland State.

Shandas said they'll look at factors that make some parts of the city hotter than others and then make any necessary recommendations to city leaders.

Altonhoff said it could take years to implement any changes.

For more information on the research, click here.

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