The Relation Between Land-cover and the Urban Heat Island in Northeastern Puerto Rico

TitleThe Relation Between Land-cover and the Urban Heat Island in Northeastern Puerto Rico
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMurphy, SF, Hall, CAS, Hall, CAS, Heisler, G, Stehman, S, Molina, M
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Accession NumberLUQ.1106
KeywordsGEOMOD, land cover, sky view factor, temperature measurements, urban climate, urban heat islands, Urbanization

Throughout the tropics, population movements, urban growth, and industrialization are causing conditions that result in elevated temperatures within urban areas when compared with that in surrounding rural areas, a phenomenon known as the urban heat island (UHI). One such example is the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Our objective in this study was to quantify the UHI created by the San Juan Metropolitan Area over space and time using temperature data collected by mobile- and fixed-station measurements. We also used the fixed-station measurements to examine the relationship between average temperature at a given location and the density of remotely sensed vegetation located upwind. We then regressed temperatures against regional upwind land cover to predict future temperature with projected urbanization. Our data from the fixed stations show that the average nighttime UHI calculated between the urban reference and rural stations (ΔTCBD–rural) was 2.15 °C during the usually wet season and 1.78 °C during the usually dry season. The maximum UHI value for San Juan was calculated as 4.7 °C between the urban and forest sites and 3.9 °C between the urban and an open, rural site. Comparisons of diurnal temperature trends at urban, grassland, and forested sites indicate that canopy cover reduced daytime warming. Temperature was predicted best (r2 = 0.94) by vegetation in upwind easterly directions, especially that within 180 m of the sensor. Results from the mobile measurements show that the UHI has reached the base of the Luquillo Mountains. Predictions of future development and temperatures suggest that if the present pattern of development continues, over 140 km2 of land that showed no signs of UHI in 2000 will have an average annual UHI between + 0.4 and + 1.55 °C by 2050. Furthermore, more than 130 km2 of land area with a current UHI between + 0.4 and + 1.4 °C in 2000 will have an average UHI greater than + 1.55 °C by 2050. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society