Investigation of Urban Air Temperature and Humidity Patterns during Extreme Heat Conditions Using Satellite-Derived Data

Leiqiu Hu, Andrew J. Monaghan, Nathaniel A. Brunsell
2015 Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology  
Extreme heat is a leading cause of weather-related human mortality. The urban heat island (UHI) can magnify heat exposure in metropolitan areas. This study investigates the ability of a new MODIS-retrieved near-surface air temperature and humidity dataset to depict urban heat patterns over metropolitan Chicago, Illinois, during June-August 2003-13 under clear-sky conditions. A self-organizing mapping (SOM) technique is used to cluster air temperature data into six predominant patterns. The
more » ... st heat patterns from the SOM analysis are compared with the 11-summer median conditions using the urban heat island curve (UHIC). The UHIC shows the relationship between air temperature (and dewpoint temperature) and urban land-use fraction. It is found that during these hottest events 1) the air temperature and dewpoint temperature over the study area increase most during nighttime, by at least 4 K relative to the median conditions; 2) the urban-rural temperature/humidity gradient is decreased as a result of larger temperature and humidity increases over the areas with greater vegetation fraction than over those with greater urban fraction; and 3) heat patterns grow more rapidly leading up to the events, followed by a slower return to normal conditions afterward. This research provides an alternate way to investigate the spatiotemporal characteristics of the UHI, using a satellite remote sensing perspective on air temperature and humidity. The technique has potential to be applied to cities globally and provides a climatological perspective on extreme heat that complements the many case studies of individual events.
doi:10.1175/jamc-d-15-0051.1 fatcat:yk4w25zs4rfz3c53fndav6ntve