Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Aug;121(8):925-31. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1206176. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


BACKGROUND: Land surface temperature (LST) and percent surface imperviousness (SI), both derived from satellite imagery, have been used to characterize the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon in which urban areas are warmer than non-urban areas.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to assess the correlations between LSTs and SI images with actual temperature readings from a ground-based network of outdoor monitors.

METHODS: We evaluated the relationships among a) LST calculated from a 2009 summertime satellite image of the Detroit metropolitan region, Michigan; b) SI from the 2006 National Land Cover Data Set; and c) ground-based temperature measurements monitored during the same time period at 19 residences throughout the Detroit metropolitan region. Associations between these ground-based temperatures and the average LSTs and SI at different radii around the point of the ground-based temperature measurement were evaluated at different time intervals. Spearman correlation coefficients and corresponding p-values were calculated.

RESULTS: Satellite-derived LST and SI values were significantly correlated with 24-hr average and August monthly average ground temperatures at all but two of the radii examined (100 m for LST and 0 m for SI). Correlations were also significant for temperatures measured between 0400 and 0500 hours for SI, except at 0 m, but not LST. Statistically significant correlations ranging from 0.49 to 0.91 were observed between LST and SI.

CONCLUSIONS: Both SI and LST could be used to better understand spatial variation in heat exposures over longer time frames but are less useful for estimating shorter-term, actual temperature exposures, which can be useful for public health preparedness during extreme heat events.

PMID:23777856 | PMC:PMC3734495 | DOI:10.1289/ehp.1206176