Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 95, Issue 3–4, pp 397–406 | Cite as

Quantifying the influence of land-use and surface characteristics on spatial variability in the urban heat island

Original Paper


The urban thermal environment varies not only from its rural surroundings but also within the urban area due to intra-urban differences in land-use and surface characteristics. Understanding the causes of this intra-urban variability is a first step in improving urban planning and development. Toward this end, a method for quantifying causes of spatial variability in the urban heat island has been developed. This paper presents the method as applied to a specific test case of Portland, Oregon. Vehicle temperature traverses were used to determine spatial differences in summertime ~2 m air temperature across the metropolitan area in the afternoon. A tree-structured regression model was used to quantify the land-use and surface characteristics that have the greatest influence on daytime UHI intensity. The most important urban characteristic separating warmer from cooler regions of the Portland metropolitan area was canopy cover. Roadway area density was also an important determinant of local UHI magnitudes. Specifically, the air above major arterial roads was found to be warmer on weekdays than weekends, possibly due to increased anthropogenic activity from the vehicle sector on weekdays. In general, warmer regions of the city were associated with industrial and commercial land-use. The downtown core, whilst warmer than the rural surroundings, was not the warmest part of the Portland metropolitan area. This is thought to be due in large part to local shading effects in the urban canyons.


  1. Akbari H, Pomerantz M, Taha H (2001) Cool surfaces and shade trees to reduce energy use and improve air quality in urban areas. Sol Energy 70:295–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnfield J (2003) Two decades of urban climate research: a review of turbulence, exchanges of energy and water, and the urban heat island. Int J Climatol 23:1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnfield J (2006) Micro- and mesoclimatology. Prog Phys Geogr 30Google Scholar
  4. Assimakopoulos MN, Mihalakakou G, Flocas HA (2007) Simulating the thermal behaviour of a building during summer period in the urban environment. Renew Energy 32(11):1805–1816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bornstein R, Lin Q (2000) Urban heat islands and summertime convective thunderstorms in Atlanta: three case studies. Atmos Environ 34:507–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bottyan Z, Unger J (2003) A multiple linear statistical model for estimating the mean maximum urban heat island. Theor Appl Climatol 75:233–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Breiman L, Freidman JH, Stone CJ, Olshen RA (1984) Classification and regression trees, CRC, Boca Raton, FL, USAGoogle Scholar
  8. Changnon Jr SA, Huff FA, Semonin RG (1971) METROMEX: an investigation of inadvertent weather modification. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 52:958–968CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chow WTL, Roth M (2006) Temporal dynamics of the urban heat island in Singapore. Int J Climatol 26:2243–2260. DOI 10.1002/joc.1364 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chudnovsky A, Ben-Dor E, Saaroni H (2004) Diurnal thermal behavior of selected urban objects using remote sensing measurements. Energy Build 36:1063–1074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. City of Portland (2006) Natural resource inventory update: vegetation mapping project. City of Portland, Bureau of Planning, Portland, OR, 18 ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Erell E, Williamson T (2007) Intra-urban differences in canopy layer air temperature at a mid-latitude city. Int J Climatol 27(9):1243–1255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. George LA, Becker WB (2003) Investigating the urban heat island effect with a collaborative inquiry project. J Geosci Educ 51:237–243Google Scholar
  14. Giridharan R, Ganesan S, Lau SSY (2004) Daytime urban heat island effect in high-rise and high-density residential developments in Hong Kong. Energy Build 36:525–534. DOI 10.1016/j.enbuild.2003.12.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Giridharan R, Lau SSY, Ganesan S (2005) Nocturnal heat island effect in urban residential developments of Hong Kong. Energy Build 37:964–971. DOI 10.1016/j.enbuild.2004.12.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Giridharan R, Lau SSY, Ganesan S, Givoni B (2007) Urban design factors influencing heat island intensity in high-rise high-density environments of Hong Kong. Build Environ 42:3669–3684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Huang H, Ooka R, Kato S (2005) Urban thermal environment measurements and numerical simulation for an actual complex urban area covering a large district heating and cooling system in summer. Atmos Environ 39:6362–6375. DOI 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2005.07.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jauregui E, Romales E (1996) Urban effects on convective precipitation in Mexico City. Atmos Environ 30:3383–3389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jonsson P (2004) Vegetation as an urban climate control in the subtropical city of Gaborone, Botswana. Int J Climatol 24:1307–1322. DOI 10.1002/joc.1064 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jusuf SK, Wong NH, Hagen E, Anggoro R, Hong Y (2007) The influence of land use on the urban heat island in Singapore. Habitat Int 31:232–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kolokotroni M, Zhang Y, Watkins R (2007) The London heat island and building cooling design. Sol Energy 81:102–110. DOI 10.1016/j.solener.2006.06.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. ODOT (2007) Daily vehicle miles traveled. ODOT, Salem, OR, Available Online. Cited December 2007
  23. Portland Metro (2002) 2002–2022 urban growth report: a residential land need analysis. Portland Metro, Portland, OR, 42 ppGoogle Scholar
  24. Rawlings JO (1988) Applied regression analysis: a research tool. Wadsworth, Pacific Grove, CA, USAGoogle Scholar
  25. RLIS (2006) Regional land information system. Available Online. Cited June 2006
  26. Roth M (2002) Effects of cities on local climates. Workshop of IGES/APN Mega-City Project, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Kitakyushu, Japan, January 2002Google Scholar
  27. Rulequest (2006) Rulequest research data mining tools. Rulequest, St Ives, Australia, Available Online. Cited July 2006
  28. Saaroni H, Ben-Dor E, Bitan A, Potchter O (2000) Spatial distribution and microscale characteristics of the urban heat island in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Landscape Urban Plan 48:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Saitoh TS, Shimada T, Hoshi H (1996) Modeling and simulation of the Tokyo urban heat island. Atmos Environ 30:3431–3442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sailor DJ, Lu L (2004) A top-down methodology for developing diurnal and seasonal anthropogenic heating profiles for urban areas. Atmos Environ 38: 2737-2748Google Scholar
  31. Sarrat C, Lemonsu A, Masson V, Guedalia D (2006) Impact of urban heat island on regional atmospheric pollution. Atmos Environ 40:1743–1758. DOI 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2005.11.037 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shutters ST, Balling J, Robert C (2006) Weekly periodicity of environmental variables in Phoenix, Arizona. Atmos Environ 40:304–310. DOI 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2005.09.037 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Simmonds I, Keay K (1997) Weekly cycle of meteorological variations in Melbourne and the role of pollution and anthropogenic heat release. Atmos Environ 31:1589–1603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Souch C, Grimmond S (2006) Applied climatology: urban climate. Prog Phys Geog 30:270–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spronken-Smith RA, Oke TR (1998) The thermal regime of urban parks in two cities with different summer climates. Int J Remote Sens 19:2085–2104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stone B, Norman JM (2006) Land use planning and surface heat island formation: a parcel-based radiation flux approach. Atmos Environ 40:3561–3573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Taha H (1996) Modeling impacts of increased urban vegetation on ozone air quality in the south coast air basin. Atmos Environ 30:3423–3430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Unger J (2004) Intra-urban relationships between surface geometry and urban heat island: review and new approach. Climate Res 27:253–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Unger J (2006) Modelling the annual mean maximum urban heat island using 2D and 3D surface parameters. Climate Res 30:215–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Voogt JA (2002) Urban heat island: causes and consequences of global environmental change, vol 2. Wiley, Chichester, NY, pp 660–666Google Scholar
  41. Wong NH, Yu C (2005) Study of green areas and urban heat island in a tropical city. Habitat Int 29:547–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Materials EngineeringPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

Personalised recommendations