Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Urban landcover differentially drives day and nighttime air temperature across a semi-arid city

March 16, 2022

Semi-arid urban environments are undergoing an increase in both average air temperatures and in the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events. Within cities, different composition and densities of urban landcovers (ULC) influence local air temperatures, either mitigating or increasing heat. Currently, understanding how combinations of ULC influence air temperature at the block to neighborhood scale is necessary for heat mitigation plans, and yet limited due to the complexities integrating high-resolution ULC with spatial and temporally high-resolution microclimate data. We quantify how ULC influences air temperature at 60 m resolution for day and nighttime climate normals and extreme heat conditions by integrating microclimate sensor data sensor and high-resolution (1 m2) ULC for Denver, Colorado's urban core. We derive ULC drivers of air temperature using a structural equation model, then use a random forest algorithm to predict air temperatures for 30-year climate normals and an extreme heat condition. We find that, in conjunction with other ULC, urban tree canopy reduces daytime air temperatures (−0.026 °C per % cover), and the combination of impervious surfaces and buildings increases daytime air temperature (0.021 °C per % cover). Compared to daytime hours, nighttime irrigated turf temperature cooling effects are increased from being non-significant to −0.022 °C per % cover, while tree canopy effects are reduced from −0.026 °C during the day to −0.016 °C at night. Overall, ULC drives ~17% and 25% of local air temperature during the day and night, respectively. ULC influence on daytime air temperatures is altered in extreme heat events, both depending on the ULC type and time of day. Our findings inform urban planners seeking to identify potential hot and cool spots within a semi-arid city and mitigate high urban air temperatures through using ULC within larger urban climate mitigation strategies.

Publication Year 2022
Title Urban landcover differentially drives day and nighttime air temperature across a semi-arid city
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154589
Authors Peter Christian Ibsen, G. Darrel Jenerette, Tyler Dell, Kenneth J. Bagstad, James E. Diffendorfer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70230233
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center