We've already seen bikes that double as a talk show set, coffee shop and pizza-serving bar, but a full-size weather-monitoring station? That's a new one. It's also exactly what University at Buffalo architect Nicholas Rajkovich created, however, to collect fine-scale weather data around Cleveland and area. Over 50 lb (23 kg) of gear was added to an existing touring bike, which Prof. Rajkovisch rode throughout the city over the course of a summer.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has installed a research-grade weather station on a bicycle to gather this much data for analysis," he says. "Although airport weather stations and satellite data help to estimate temperatures in a city, finer-scale data is needed to support planning at the neighborhood level."

Amongst the gear added to his bike was a thermocouple unit, hygrometer unit, GPS device, camera, a four-component net radiometer and an infrared radiometer. The first three of those items were attached to a 6.5-foot (2-m) aluminum tower mounted on the back of the bicycle, in order to avoid ground interference.

Readings were taken once a second on each of a total of 12 rides, with data being logged every minute on an onboard hard drive.

Using all of that gear, Nicholas was able to gather very localized microclimate data on solar radiation, sky view, surface temperature and air temperature. Amongst other things, analysis of that information helped explain how tree cover in neighbourhoods contributes to air and ground temperature variations – those findings could in turn prove valuable to urban planners.

Although the rides were conducted back in 2012, a paper regarding the study's findings was published just this January in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Another batch of data-gathering rides may take place this summer, in either Buffalo or Cleveland.

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