Newswise — Tempe, AZ  -- With excessive heat warnings in effect in Arizona and other parts of the Southwest, finding shade and other ways to stay cool is high priority for just about everyone this summer. Ariane Middel, a researcher and urban climatologist at Arizona State University, is working on ways to do just that. Using Google Earth images and big data calculations, Middel has developed a tool that will someday guide pedestrians toward their destinations along the shadiest and coolest routes on foot.

On any given day, you might find Middel pulling her mobile weather station, or what she calls her mean radiant temperature cart, around ASU’s Tempe campus to collect information on shade.  Middel is also looking at the distribution of shade on campus to assess the implications for thermal comfort.

“Keeping cool and staying comfortable is really difficult here in the desert in summer,” Middel says. “Out of all the variables that determine how comfortable you feel, shade is the most important factor, more important than air temperature, relative humidity, even the clothing that you’re wearing.”

Ariane Middel is an assistant research professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and a faculty affiliate of the Urban Climate Research Center. She is available to discuss her research on shade and climate.

Contact Suzanne Wilson at [email protected] for media inquiries.