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    Author(s): D. J. Murphy; M. H. Hall; C. A. S. Hall; G. M. Heisler; S. V. Stehman; C. Anselmi-Molina; NO-VALUE
    Date: 2011
    Source: International Journal of Climatology 31:1222-1239
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    PDF: Download Publication  (793.29 KB)


    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 (change in T CBD– T 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.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Murphy, D. J.; Hall, M. H.; Hall, C. A. S.; Heisler, G. M.; Stehman, S. V.; Anselmi-Molina, C. 2011. The relationship between land cover and the urban heat island in northeastern Puerto Rico. International Journal of Climatology 31:1222-1239.


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    urban heat islands, land cover, sky view factor, GEOMOD, urban climate, temperature measurements, urbanization

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