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The Urban Heat Island of the North-Central Texas Region and Its Relation to the 2011 Severe Texas Drought

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  • 1 University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas
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Abstract

Hourly surface temperature differences between Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas, metropolitan and rural sites have been used to calculate the urban heat island from 2001 to 2011. The heat island peaked after sunset and was particularly strong during the drought and heat wave in July 2011, reaching a single-day instantaneous maximum value of 5.4°C and a monthly mean maximum of 3.4°C, as compared with the 2001–11 July average of 2.4°C. This severe drought caused faster warming of rural locations relative to the metropolitan area in the morning as a result of lower soil moisture content, which led to an average negative heat island in July 2011 of −2.3°C at 1100 central standard time. The ground-based assessment of canopy air temperature at screening level has been supported by a remotely sensed surface estimate from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the Terra satellite, highlighting a dual-peak maximum heat island in the major city centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. Both ground-based and remotely sensed spatial analyses of the maximum heat island indicate a northwest shift, the result of southeast winds in July 2011 of ~2 m s−1 on average. There was an overall positive trend in the urban heat island of 0.14°C decade−1 in the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area from 2001 to 2011, due to rapid urbanization. Superimposed on this trend are significant interannual and decadal variations that influence the urban climate.

Corresponding author address: Arne Winguth, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas at Arlington, 500 Yates St., Arlington, TX 76019. E-mail: awinguth@uta.edu

Abstract

Hourly surface temperature differences between Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas, metropolitan and rural sites have been used to calculate the urban heat island from 2001 to 2011. The heat island peaked after sunset and was particularly strong during the drought and heat wave in July 2011, reaching a single-day instantaneous maximum value of 5.4°C and a monthly mean maximum of 3.4°C, as compared with the 2001–11 July average of 2.4°C. This severe drought caused faster warming of rural locations relative to the metropolitan area in the morning as a result of lower soil moisture content, which led to an average negative heat island in July 2011 of −2.3°C at 1100 central standard time. The ground-based assessment of canopy air temperature at screening level has been supported by a remotely sensed surface estimate from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the Terra satellite, highlighting a dual-peak maximum heat island in the major city centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. Both ground-based and remotely sensed spatial analyses of the maximum heat island indicate a northwest shift, the result of southeast winds in July 2011 of ~2 m s−1 on average. There was an overall positive trend in the urban heat island of 0.14°C decade−1 in the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area from 2001 to 2011, due to rapid urbanization. Superimposed on this trend are significant interannual and decadal variations that influence the urban climate.

Corresponding author address: Arne Winguth, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas at Arlington, 500 Yates St., Arlington, TX 76019. E-mail: awinguth@uta.edu
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