Quantitative analysis of factors contributing to urban heat island intensity

Young Hee Ryu, Jong Jin Baik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study identifies causative factors of the urban heat island (UHI) and quantifies their relative contributions to the daytime and nighttime UHI intensities using a mesoscale atmospheric model that includes a single-layer urban canopy model. A midlatitude city and summertime conditions are considered. Three main causative factors are identified: anthropogenic heat, impervious surfaces, and three-dimensional (3D) urban geometry. Furthermore, the 3Durban geometry factor is subdivided into three subfactors: additional heat stored in vertical walls, radiation trapping, and wind speed reduction. To separate the contributions of the factors and interactions between the factors, a factor separation analysis is performed. In the daytime, the impervious surfaces contribute most to the UHI intensity. The anthropogenic heat contributes positively to the UHI intensity, whereas the 3D urban geometry contributes negatively. In the nighttime, the anthropogenic heat itself contributes most to the UHI intensity, although it interacts strongly with other factors. The factor that contributes the second most is the impervious-surfaces factor. The 3D urban geometry contributes positively to the nighttime UHI intensity. Among the 3Durban geometry subfactors, the additional heat stored in vertical walls contributes most to both the daytime and nighttime UHI intensities. Extensive sensitivity experiments to anthropogenic heat intensity and urban surface parameters show that the relative importance and ranking order of the contributions are similar to those in the control experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-854
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 May

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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