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Investigating urban heat island through spatial analysis of New York City streetscapes

Authors: Richard Shaker*, Ryerson University
Topics: Environment
Keywords: Environmental indicators; Geographically weighted regression; Indicator-based assessment; Landscape configuration; Landscape ecology; Streetscapes; Sustainable development planning; Sustainable urbanization; Urban landscape; Urban heat island
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Cities experience the urban heat island (UHI), which continue to pose challenges for humanity’s
increasingly urban population. Past research has revealed that land cover composition and
configuration, along with other geographical phenomena (i.e., albedo), can explain much of the spatial
pattern of UHI, yet advances await. In response, this research was made to: (i) assess the spatial pattern
of mean ambient night temperature across 34 streetscapes in New York City (NYC); (ii) create and
differentiate global and local regression models between- natural and built streetscape characteristics-
and mean ambient night temperature; and (iii) use geographically weighted regression (GWR) to assess
local patterns of correlated associations. Urban canopy layer (UCL) temperatures were recorded across
34 weather stations, and landscape metrics calculated from 0.914m land cover data with 96% accuracy.
Local Getis-Ord Gi* statistic exhibited significant spatial cold and hot spots of UHI in NYC. Global
inferential tests revealed that sky-view factor, photosynthesis activity, elevation, and road configuration
were the strongest predictors of mean ambient night temperature. Six multiple regression models were
ultimately made with GWR fitting the UHI aptly (R 2 = 65-74%). Important explanatory covariates were
illustrated using local pseudo-t statistics and linked to mean ambient night temperature, supporting the
importance of GWR for understanding local UHI interactions. Results also confirm that landscape
configuration metrics are stronger predictors of UHI than composition measures. Streetscape design,
particularly road patterns and process, requires more consideration when attempting to mitigate UHI
during future sustainability planning, urban renewal projects, and research.

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