As the last (we hope) hot spell of the summer gives up its ghost this week, a report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council confirms what you probably already figured: that the real-time temperature on the ground often exceeds what the mercury or the weatherman says.
The report crunched land surface temperatures, rather than air ones, from August 2010, according to the Globe's Catherine Cloutier. "Data came from LANDSAT satellite images and was analyzed using a tool kit from Polish researchers, said Eliza Wallace, a data analyst at the planning council." In the end, the research showed basically that the more vegetation in an area, the cooler the surface temperatures. (The lighter the colors in the above map, by the way, the cooler the temps on the ground; the bright red spots represent where the thermometer sometimes reached 140 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Commonwealth Avenue was perhaps the most instructive example: "Back Bay's stretch of the thoroughfare has a park running through its median, leading to more moderate temperatures. But as the pavement becomes denser and the trees sparser heading west, the heat levels rise significantly." Check out the below and stay cool: