Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 339–358 | Cite as

Simulation of surface urban heat islands under ‘ideal’ conditions at night part 2: Diagnosis of causation

  • T. R. Oke
  • G. T. Johnson
  • D. G. Steyn
  • I. D. Watson


A simple energy balance model which simulates the thermal regime of urban and rural surfaces under calm, cloudless conditions at night is used to assess the relative importance of the commonly stated causes of urban heat islands. Results show that the effects of street canyon geometry on radiation and of thermal properties on heat storage release, are the primary and almost equal causes on most occasions. In very cold conditions, space heating of buildings can become a dominant cause but this depends on wall insulation. The effects of the urban ‘greenhouse’ and surface emissivity are relatively minor. The model confirms the importance of local control especially the relation between street geometry and the heat island and highlights the importance of rural thermal properties and their ability to produce seasonal variation in the heat island. A possible explanation for the small heat


Emissivity Urban Heat Island Thermal Regime Heat Storage Street Canyon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. Oke
    • 1
  • G. T. Johnson
    • 2
  • D. G. Steyn
    • 1
  • I. D. Watson
    • 2
  1. 1.Atmospheric Science Programme, Department of GeographyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.School of Mathematics, Physics, Computing, and Electronics and School of Earth Sciences, Macquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

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