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Measuring Thermal Characteristics of Urban LandscapesThe additional heating of the air over the city is the result of the replacement of naturally vegetated surfaces with those composed of asphalt, concrete, rooftops and other man-made materials. The temperatures of these artificial surfaces can be 20 to 40 C higher than vegetated surfaces. Materials such as asphalt store much of the sun's energy and remains hot long after sunset. This produces a dome of elevated air temperatures 5 to 8 C greater over the city, compared to the air temperatures over adjacent rural areas. This effect is called the "urban heat island". Urban landscapes are a complex mixture of vegetated and nonvegetated surfaces. It is difficult to take enough temperature measurements over a large city area to characterize the complexity of urban radiant surface temperature variability. However, the use of remotely sensed thermal data from airborne scanners are ideal for the task. In a study funded by NASA, a series of flights over Huntsville, Alabama were performed in September 1994 and over Atlanta, Georgia in May 1997. Analysis of thermal energy responses for specific or discrete surfaces typical of the urban landscape (e.g., asphalt, building rooftops, vegetation) requires measurements at a very fine spatial scale (i.e., <15 m) to adequately resolve these surfaces and their attendant thermal energy regimes. Additionally, very fine scale spatial resolution thermal infrared data, such as that obtained from aircraft, are very useful for demonstrating to planning officials, policy makers, and the general populace, what the benefits are of the urban forest in both mitigating the urban heat island effect, in making cities more aesthetically pleasing and more habitable environments, and in overall cooling of the community. In this presentation we will examine the techniques of analyzing remotely sensed data for measuring the effect of various urban surfaces on their contribution to the urban heat island effect.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Luvall, Jeffrey C. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Quattrochi, Dale A. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Rickman, Doug L. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Environment Pollution
Distribution Limits