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Developing an Index to Measure Urban Heat Island Effect Using Satellite Land Skin Temperature and Land Cover Observations

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, California
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Abstract

A new index of calculating the intensity of urban heat island effects (UHI) for a city using satellite skin temperature and land cover observations is recommended. UHI, the temperature difference between urban and rural regions, is traditionally identified from the 2-m surface air temperatures (i.e., the screen-level temperature T2m) measured at a pair of weather stations sited in urban and rural locations. However, such screen-level UHI is affected by the location, distance, and geographic conditions of the pair of weather stations. For example, choosing a different pair of rural and city sites leads to a different UHI intensity for the same city, due to the high heterogeneity of the urban surface temperature. To avoid such uncertainty, satellite-observed surface skin temperature measurements (i.e., skin level temperature Tskin) is recommended to record UHI, known as skin-level UHI or UHIskin. This new index has advantages of high spatial resolution and aerial coverage to better record UHI intensity than T2m. An assessment of skin-level UHI from 10 yr of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations reveals that skin-level UHI has a strong UHI signal during the day and at night. In addition, there are significant diurnal and seasonal variations in skin-level UHI. Furthermore, the skin-level UHI is stronger during the day and summer (July) than during nighttime and winter. This new index is important for more uniformly assessing UHIs over cities around the globe. Nevertheless, whether the seasonality and diurnal variations revealed in this work using skin-level UHI index are valid over desert cities, such as Phoenix, Arizona, need to be examined.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Menglin S. Jin, Dept. of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University, 1 Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95120. E-mail: jin@met.sjsu.edu

Abstract

A new index of calculating the intensity of urban heat island effects (UHI) for a city using satellite skin temperature and land cover observations is recommended. UHI, the temperature difference between urban and rural regions, is traditionally identified from the 2-m surface air temperatures (i.e., the screen-level temperature T2m) measured at a pair of weather stations sited in urban and rural locations. However, such screen-level UHI is affected by the location, distance, and geographic conditions of the pair of weather stations. For example, choosing a different pair of rural and city sites leads to a different UHI intensity for the same city, due to the high heterogeneity of the urban surface temperature. To avoid such uncertainty, satellite-observed surface skin temperature measurements (i.e., skin level temperature Tskin) is recommended to record UHI, known as skin-level UHI or UHIskin. This new index has advantages of high spatial resolution and aerial coverage to better record UHI intensity than T2m. An assessment of skin-level UHI from 10 yr of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations reveals that skin-level UHI has a strong UHI signal during the day and at night. In addition, there are significant diurnal and seasonal variations in skin-level UHI. Furthermore, the skin-level UHI is stronger during the day and summer (July) than during nighttime and winter. This new index is important for more uniformly assessing UHIs over cities around the globe. Nevertheless, whether the seasonality and diurnal variations revealed in this work using skin-level UHI index are valid over desert cities, such as Phoenix, Arizona, need to be examined.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Menglin S. Jin, Dept. of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University, 1 Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95120. E-mail: jin@met.sjsu.edu
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