Original Paper

Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 137-154

First online:

Urban heat island in a coastal urban area in northern Spain

  • Juan A. AceroAffiliated withEnergy and Environmental Division, TECNALIA Email author 
  • , Jon ArrizabalagaAffiliated withEnergy and Environmental Division, TECNALIA
  • , Sebastian KupskiAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Meteorology, University of Kassel
  • , Lutz KatzschnerAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Meteorology, University of Kassel

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This work examines the characteristics of the urban heat island (UHI) in a medium-sized city in northern Spain (Bilbao) using 5-year climate data (2005–2009) and the results of three specific measurement campaigns (2009–2010). Urban climate variables are not only compared with those in rural sites but also local climatic differences occurring inside the city are analysed. The findings presented in this paper show the influence of complex topography and sea/land breeze in the urban climate. Spatial characteristics and temporal evolution of UHI is presented. Hourly maximum temperature anomaly (ΔT u–r, max) occurs just after sunrise and an urban cold island (UCI) is developed after midday. Along the year, mean UHI intensity is highest in autumn and the UCI effect increases in spring and summer in relation with sea breeze cooling potential. Diurnal and seasonal variation of air flow patterns appear to influence significantly on UHI intensity.