Research Papers: Environmental Aspect of Energy Sources

Use of Satellite Images for Observational and Quantitative Analysis of Urban Heat Islands Around the World

[+] Author and Article Information

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Energy Resources Technology. Manuscript received May 24, 2012; final manuscript received July 28, 2012; published online October 5, 2012. Editor: Hameed Metghalchi.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 134(4), 042101 (Oct 05, 2012) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007486 History: Received May 24, 2012; Revised July 28, 2012

Urban heat island intensity (UHII) is calculated as the spatially averaged temperature difference between an urban and its surrounding rural area. This concept, however, provides an umbrella for a range of diversified ideas that include the temperature difference between the densely developed urban area and least developed area or between two different built-up areas. There are also averages for the season, for the year, for multiple years, etc., and UHII quoted for the day and another for the night. The objective of this work is to examine the urban heat island effect for cities around the world, using readily available data. The innovation is in using data from the Landsat satellites for different cities previously not studied. Thermal images of the Earth were obtained and analyzed to produce surface-temperature maps. These maps showed that the temperature in the urban environments were significantly higher than the temperature in the surrounding countryside, a defining characteristic of urban heat island. Furthermore, the urban and rural areas in the images were separated and analyzed individually to quantitatively measure the temperature difference. It was found that the UHII could be 0.3–5.1 °C for the eleven cities investigated. Miami and Shenzen are two cities which seem to have been missed in previous studies because they were limited in their scope and responsibilities, and their methods required much more resources for the longer term studies. It is not the claim here that a UHI is definitively established by the analysis presented of the Landsat satellite data. The present work demonstrates the use of a possible planning tool in terms of understanding where urban areas may be subjected to additional heat. Our use of the method shows that a UHI is probably taking place at the time of observation, and precautionary notices should be sent out to the community to take preventative measures to ensure their health and wellbeing. The minimal resources required is the demonstration shown by our work of the usefulness of this method.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Wong, K. V., “The Second Law of Thermodynamics and Heat Release to the Global Environment by Human Activities,” Proceedings ofIMECE 2010, Vancouver, BC, CA. [CrossRef]
Wong, K. V., Paddon, A., and Jimenez, A., “Heat Island Effect Aggravates Mortality,” Proceedings ofIMECE 2011, Denver, CO. [CrossRef]
US Environmental Protection Agency, 2012, “Heat Island Effect—Basic Information,” retrieved April 2, 2012, http://www.epa.gov/hiri/about/index.htm
Voogt, J. A., 2004, “Urban Heat Islands: Hotter Cities,” retrieved April 2, 2012, http://www.actionbioscience.org/environment/voogt.html
Morris, C. J. G., “Urban Heat Islands and Climate Change—Melbourne, Australia,” retrieved April 2, 2012, http://www.actionbioscience.org/
Heat Island Group, 2011, “Cool Science: Urban Heat Island,” retrieved April 2, 2012, http://heatisland.lbl.gov/coolscience/cool-science-urban-heat-island
NASA Earth Observatory, 2012, “What's the Value of Land Skin Temperature?” retrieved April 9, 2012, http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/HottestSpot/page3.php
Carlowicz, M., 2009, “Ecosystem, Vegetation Affect Intensity of Urban Heat Island Effect,” retrieved April 9, 2012, http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/terra/news/heat-islands.html
Weng, Q., 2001, “A Remote Sensing-GIS Evaluation of Urban Expansion and Its Impact on Surface Temperature in the Zhujiang Delta, China,” Int. J. Remote Sens., 22(10), pp. 1999–2014. [CrossRef]
Weng, Q., 2003, “Fractal Analysis of Satellite-Detected Urban Heat Island Effect,” Photogramm. Eng. Remote Sens., 69(5), pp. 555–566.
Streutker, D. R., 2002, “A Remote Sensing Study of the Urban Heat Island of Houston, Texas,” Int. J. Remote Sens., 23, pp. 2595–2608. [CrossRef]
NASA, Landsat Program, “Landsat 7 Handbook,” retrieved February 4, 2012, http://landsathandbook.gsfc.nasa.gov/program/
NASA, Landsat Program, “About Landsat,” retrieved February 4, 2012, http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/about/
Chandler, G., Markham, B., and Helder, D., 2009, “Summary of Current Radiometric Calibration Coefficients for Landsat MSS, TM, ETM+, and EO-1 ALI Sensors,” Remote Sens. Environ., 113, pp. 893–903. [CrossRef]
Li, F., Jackson, T., Kustas, W., Schmugge, T., French, A., Cosh, M., and Bindlish, R., 2004, “Deriving Land Surface Temperature From Landsat 5 and 7 During SMEX02/SMACEX,” Remote Sens. Environ., 92, pp. 521–534. [CrossRef]
Friedl, M., McIver, D., Hodges, J., Zhang, X., Muchoney, D., Strahler, A., Woodcock, C., Gopal, S., Schneider, A., Cooper, A., Baccini, A., Gao, F., and Schaaf, C., 2002, “Global Land Cover Mapping From MODIS: Algorithms and Early Results,” Remote Sens. Environ, 2002, pp. 287–302. [CrossRef]
Wibler, A., Kratz, D., and Gupta, S., 1999, “Surface Emissivity Maps for Use in Satellite Retrievals of Longwave Radiation,” NASA Technical Note, Report No. NASA/TP-1999-209362.
Peel, M., Finlayson, B., and McMahon, T., 2007, “Updated World Map of the K¨oppen-Geiger Climate Classification,” Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 11, pp. 1633–1644. [CrossRef]
Imhoff, M., Zhang, P., Wolfe, R., and Bounoua, L., 2010, “Remote Sensing of the Urban Heat Island Effect Across Biomes in the Continental USA,” Remote Sens. Environ., 114, pp. 504–513. [CrossRef]
Oke, T., Johnson, G., Lyons, T., Steyn, G., Watson, I., and Voogt, J., 1991, “Simulation of Surface Urban Heat Islands Under ‘Ideal’ Conditions at Night, Part 1: Theory and Tests Against Field Data,” Boundary-Layer Meteorol., 56(3), pp. 275–294. [CrossRef]
Stewart, I. D., 2011, “A Systematic Review and Scientific Critique of Methodology in Modern Heat Island Literature,” Int. J. Climatol., 31, pp. 200–217. [CrossRef]
Weng, Q., 2009, “Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing for Urban Climate and Environmental Studies: Methods, Applications, and Trends,” ISPRS J. Photogramm. Remote Sens., 64, pp. 335–344. [CrossRef]
Magee, N., Curtis, J., and Wendler, G., 1999, “The Urban Heat Island Effect at Fairbanks, Alaska,” Theor. Appl. Climatol., 64, pp. 39–47. [CrossRef]
Kim, Y., and Baik, J., 2002, “Maximum Urban Heat Island Intensity in Seoul,” J. Appl. Meteorol., 41, pp. 651–659. [CrossRef]
Rizwan, A. M., Leung, D. Y. C., and Liu, C., 2008, “A Review on the Generation, Determination and Mitigation of Urban Heat Island,” J. Environ. Sci., 20, pp. 120–128. [CrossRef]
Wong, N. H., and Yu, C., 2005, “Study of Green Areas and Urban Heat Island in a Tropical City,” Habitat Int., 29, pp. 547–558. [CrossRef]
Giridharan, R., Ganesan, S., and Lau, S. S. Y., 2004, “Daytime Urban Heat Island Effect in High-Rise and High-Density Residential Developments in Hong Kong,” Energy Build., 36, pp. 525–534. [CrossRef]
Giridharan, R., Lau, S. S. Y., and Ganesan, S., 2005, “Nocturnal Heat Island Effect in Urban Residential Developments of Hong Kong,” Energy Build., 37, pp. 964–971. [CrossRef]
Hung, T., Uchihama, D., Ochi, S., and Yasuoka, Y., 2006, “Assessment With Satellite Data of the Urban Heat Island Effects in Asian Mega Cities,” Int. J. Appl. Earth Obs. Geo-Inf., 8(1), pp. 34–48. [CrossRef]
Jauregui, E., 1997, “Heat Island Development in Mexico City,” Atmos. Environ., 31(20), pp. 3821–3831. [CrossRef]
Rizwan, A. M., Leung, D. Y. C., and Liu, C., 2009, “An Investigation of Urban Heat Island Intensity (UHII) as an Indicator of Urban Heating,” Atmos. Res., 94, pp. 491–500. [CrossRef]
Yague, C., Zurita, E., and Martinez, A., 1991, “Statistical Analysis of the Madrid Urban Heat Island,” Atmos. Environ., 25B(3), pp. 327–332 [CrossRef].


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

The true color image of South Florida, Florida, United States of America. The urban area is brightened, while the surrounding rural area is darkened.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

The true color image of Chicago, Illinois, United States of America. The urban area is brightened, while the surrounding rural area is darkened.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

The temperature image of Tokyo, Japan, on the left, along with the corresponding true color image, on the right. The units of the temperature scale are in degrees Fahrenheit.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

The temperature image of South Florida, United States of America, on the left, along with the corresponding true color image, on the right. The units of the temperature scale are in degrees Fahrenheit.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The temperature image of Seoul, South Korea, on the left, along with the corresponding true color image, on the right. The units of the temperature scale are in degrees Fahrenheit.



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In