Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 397–406

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

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00704-008-0017-5

Cite this article as:
Hart, M.A. & Sailor, D.J. Theor Appl Climatol (2009) 95: 397. doi:10.1007/s00704-008-0017-5


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.

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

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