skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: The Dynamic Relationship between Air and Land Surface Temperature within the Madison, Wisconsin Urban Heat Island
The urban heat island (UHI) effect, the phenomenon by which cities are warmer than rural surroundings, is increasingly important in a rapidly urbanizing and warming world, but fine-scale differences in temperature within cities are difficult to observe accurately. Networks of air temperature (Tair) sensors rarely offer the spatial density needed to capture neighborhood-level disparities in warming, while satellite measures of land surface temperature (LST) do not reflect the air temperatures that people physically experience. This analysis combines both Tair measurements recorded by a spatially-dense stationary sensor network in Dane County, Wisconsin, and remotely-sensed measurements of LST over the same area—to improve the use and interpretation of LST in UHI studies. The data analyzed span three summer months (June, July, and August) and eight years (2012–2019). Overall, Tair and LST displayed greater agreement in spatial distribution than in magnitude. The relationship between day of the year and correlation was fit to a parabolic curve (R2 = 0.76, p = 0.0002) that peaked in late July. The seasonal evolution in the relationship between Tair and LST, along with particularly high variability in LST across agricultural land cover suggest that plant phenology contributes to a seasonally varying relationship between Tair and LST measurements of the UHI.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Remote Sensing
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The surface urban heat island (SUHI), which represents the difference of land surface temperature (LST) in urban relativity to neighboring non-urban surfaces, is usually measured using satellite LST data. Over the last few decades, advancements of remote sensing along with spatial science have considerably increased the number and quality of SUHI studies that form the major body of the urban heat island (UHI) literature. This paper provides a systematic review of satellite-based SUHI studies, from their origin in 1972 to the present. We find an exponentially increasing trend of SUHI research since 2005, with clear preferences for geographic areas, time of day, seasons, research foci, and platforms/sensors. The most frequently studied region and time period of research are China and summer daytime, respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the studies focus on the SUHI/LST variability at a local scale. The Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM)/Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+)/Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) and Terra/Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are the two most commonly-used satellite sensors and account for about 78% of the total publications. We systematically reviewed the main satellite/sensors, methods, key findings, and challenges of the SUHI research. Previous studies confirm that the large spatial (local to global scales) and temporal (diurnal, seasonal, and inter-annual) variations of SUHI are contributed by a variety of factors such as impervious surface area, vegetation cover, landscape structure, albedo, and climate. However, applications of SUHI research are largely impeded by a series of data and methodological limitations. Lastly, we propose key potential directions and opportunities for future efforts. Besides improving the quality and quantity of LST data, more attention should be focused on understudied regions/cities, methods to examine SUHI intensity, inter-annual variability and long-term trends of SUHI, scaling issues of SUHI, the relationship between surface and subsurface UHIs, and the integration of remote sensing with field observations and numeric modeling. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Climate change is expected to exacerbate the urban heat island (UHI) effect in cities worldwide, increasing the risk of heat-related morbidity and mortality. Solar reflective ‘cool pavement’ is one of several mitigation strategies that may counteract the negative effects of the UHI effect. An increase in pavement albedo results in less heat absorption, which results in reduced surface temperatures ( T surface ). Near surface air temperatures ( T air ) could also be reduced if cool pavements are deployed at sufficiently large spatial scales, though this has never been confirmed by field measurements. This field study is the first to conduct controlled measurements of the impacts of neighborhood-scale cool pavement installations. We measured the impacts of cool pavement on albedo, T surface , and T air . In addition, pavement albedo was monitored after installation to assess its degradation over time. The field site (∼0.64 km 2 ) was located in Covina, California; ∼30 km east of Downtown Los Angeles. We found that an average pavement albedo increase of 0.18 (from 0.08 to 0.26) corresponded to maximum neighborhood averaged T surface and T air reductions of 5 °C and 0.2 °C, respectively. Maximum T surface reductions were observed in the afternoon, while minimum reductions of 0.9 °C were observed in the morning. T air reductions were detected at 12:00 local standard time (LST), and from 20:00 LST to 22:59 LST, suggesting that cool pavement decreases T air during the daytime as well as in the evening. An average albedo reduction of 30% corresponded to a ∼1 °C reduction in the T surface cooling efficacy. Although we present here the first measured T air reductions due to cool pavement, we emphasize that the tradeoffs between T air reductions and reflected shortwave radiation increases are still unclear and warrant further investigation in order to holistically assess the efficacy of cool pavements, especially with regards to pedestrian thermal comfort. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Mosquito-borne diseases (MBD) threaten over 80% of the world’s population, and are increasing in intensity and shifting in geographical range with land use and climate change. Mitigation hinges on understanding disease-specific risk profiles, but current risk maps are severely limited in spatial resolution. One important determinant of MBD risk is temperature, and though the relationships between temperature and risk have been extensively studied, maps are often created using sparse data that fail to capture microclimatic conditions. Here, we leverage high resolution land surface temperature (LST) measurements, in conjunction with established relationships between air temperature and MBD risk factors like mosquito biting rate and transmission probability, to produce fine resolution (70 m) maps of MBD risk components. We focus our case study on West Nile virus (WNV) in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where temperatures vary widely across the day and the diverse agricultural/urban landscape. We first use field measurements to establish a relationship between LST and air temperature, and apply it to Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment data (2018–2020) in peak WNV transmission months (June–September). We then use the previously derived equations to estimate spatially explicit mosquito biting and WNV transmission rates. We use these maps to uncover significant differences in risk across land cover types, and identify the times of day which contribute to high risk for different land covers. Additionally, we evaluate the value of high resolution spatial and temporal data in avoiding biased risk estimates due to Jensen’s inequality, and find that using aggregate data leads to significant biases of up to 40.5% in the possible range of risk values. Through this analysis, we show that the synergy between novel remote sensing technology and fundamental principles of disease ecology can unlock new insights into the spatio-temporal dynamics of MBDs.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract. Remote sensing data are a crucial tool for monitoring climatological changes and glacier response in areas inaccessible for in situ measurements. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface temperature (LST) product provides temperature data for remote glaciated areas where air temperature measurements from weather stations are sparse or absent, such as the St. Elias Mountains (Yukon, Canada). However, MODIS LSTs in the St. Elias Mountains have been found in prior studies to show an offset from available weather station measurements, the source of which is unknown. Here, we show that the MODIS offset likely results from the occurrence of near-surface temperature inversions rather than from the MODIS sensor’s large footprint size or from poorly constrained snow emissivity values used in LST calculations. We find that an offset in remote sensing temperatures is present not only in MODIS LST products but also in Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emissions Radiometer (ASTER) and Landsat temperature products, both of which have a much smaller footprint (90–120 m) than MODIS (1 km). In all three datasets, the offset was most pronounced in the winter (mean offset >8 ∘C) and least pronounced in the spring and summer (mean offset <2 ∘C). We also find this enhanced seasonal offset in MODIS brightness temperatures, before the incorporation of snow surface emissivity into the LST calculation. Finally, we find the MODIS LST offset to be consistent in magnitude and seasonal distribution with modeled temperature inversions and to be most pronounced under conditions that facilitate near-surface inversions, namely low incoming solar radiation and wind speeds, at study sites Icefield Divide (60.68∘N, 139.78∘ W; 2,603 m a.s.l) and Eclipse Icefield (60.84∘ N, 139.84∘ W; 3017 m a.s.l.). Although these results do not preclude errors in the MODIS sensor or LST algorithm, they demonstrate that efforts to convert MODIS LSTs to an air temperature measurement should focus on understanding near-surface physical processes. In the absence of a conversion from surface to air temperature based on physical principles, we apply a statistical conversion, enabling the use of mean annual MODIS LSTs to qualitatively and quantitatively examine temperatures in the St. Elias Mountains and their relationship to melt and mass balance. 
    more » « less
  5. Research about urban local climate and urban heat island often relies on land surface temperature (LST) data to characterize the distribution of temperature near the surface. Although using remotely sensed data for such work has the advantage of continuous spatial coverage at regular temporal intervals, it is recognized that surface temperature is not an ideal proxy for air temperature (AT). This study's goal is to develop a spatiotemporal model revealing the relationship between LST and AT within the complexities of the urban environment. A mobile weather monitoring unit was used to collect spatially-explicit fine-scale AT data while Landsat 8 and 9 passed overhead collecting LST data. A spatiotemporal model of the relationship between LST and AT in Philadelphia was constructed with this data utilizing basis functions to account for spatial and temporal autocorrelation. The spatiotemporal model results show a strong relationship between LST and AT and indicate that it is possible to predict fine scale AT (120 m) using remotely sensed LST in an urban context (r-squared = 0.99, RMSE = 0.89 ◦C). The spatiotemporal model outperforms models that do not account for spatial and temporal autocorrelation, highlighting the importance of considering these dependencies in temperature modeling. City-wide AT predictions were generated for Philadelphia demonstrating the ability of the model to improve understanding of local urban climate. 
    more » « less