urban heat island impacts



Satellite data, with consistent global coverage, can contribute substantially to the development of urban surface parameterization for climate models. In this newly funded NASA project, we are evaluating a suite of global remote sensing data sets, representing a range of urban characteristics, against MODIS-derived land-surface temperature differences between urban and surrounding rural areas (i.e., the the urban heat island). We use two MODIS land surface temperature products to quantify urban heat islands globally over the MODIS era, 2001-2010. The project will also focus on the development of two new urban datasets – MODIS-derived change in global urban extent 2000-2010, and global urban microwave backscatter from SeaWinds on QuikScat – along with several MODIS standard products, DMSP/OLS nighttime lights data, and the new VIIRS Day/Night imagery. Our analysis includes a sample of 500 cities will span a wide range of urban characteristics that likely influence the magnitude of daytime and/or nighttime UHIs and will examine a decade of rapid global urbanization, with wide geographic variation in recent rates of change in population, urban area, urban form, energy use, and economic development.

Recent publications

Mertes, C.M., Schneider, A., Tan, B., Sulla-Menashe, D., Tatem, A.J. (2015). Detecting change in urban areas at continental scales with MODIS data. Remote Sensing of Environment, vol. 158, pages 331-347.

Frolking, S., Millman, T., Schneider, A., Friedl, M.A. (2011). Urban expansion in Asia, 1999-2009, as seen with the SeaWinds scatterometer. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, December, 2011.

Click here for additional publication information.


Research questions

What factors contribute to the urban heat island effect? How do these characteristics vary across the globe?

Research team

Steve Frolking (University of New Hampshire), Mark Friedl (Boston University), Annemarie Schneider

Similar projects

ecosystem impacts of urbanization in the u.s.

RSS News