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Remote Sensing of the Urban Heat Island Effect in Wisconsin

Authors: Kayla J. Bradford*, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Rocio R. Duchesne, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Topics: Remote Sensing
Keywords: Urban Heat Island, Wisconsin, Remote Sensing
Session Type: Guided Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The urban heat island effect (UHIE) is a phenomenon that occurs when an urban area heats up significantly more compared to surrounding rural areas. The higher temperatures can cause discomfort among people which may lead to heat generation from cooling systems. Most research on the UHIE has been done on large cities where population averages in the millions. The purpose of this study is to quantify the thermal differences between urban and rural areas in relatively small cities. Three cities in Wisconsin were chosen based on their population size. Land surface temperature (LST) was retrieved from Landsat 8 imagery. Clouds, water bodies, and elevation departure from the mean were removed from the images. Each city and its surrounding area was divided into five zones (urban core, urban 1, urban 2, suburban, and rural) based off percent imperviousness and distance from the urban contour. Mean LST and standard deviation was estimated for each city’s zones. Results show thermal differences between zones but the magnitude of this difference cannot be explained by population size or area alone. For instance, the city of Janesville has 64,359 residents and an area of 51.3 square kilometers, but it exhibits a lower thermal difference (2.7 degrees Celsius) compared to other cities of similar size. Future studies should consider exploring other factors aside from population and city size that may influence thermal differences between urban and rural zones.

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