Multiple satellite estimates of urban fractions and climate effects at regional scale

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:20 PM
Gensuo Jia1, Ronghan Xu1 and Yuting He2, (1)Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, (2)The Pennsylvania State Unviersity, Department of Meteorology, University Park, PA, United States
Regional climate is controlled by large scale forcing at lateral boundary and physical processes within the region. Landuse in East Asia has been changed substantially in the last three decades, featured with expansion of urban built-up at unprecedented scale and speed. The fast expansion of urban areas could contribute to local even regional climate change. However, current spatial datasets of urban fractions do not well represent extend and expansion of urban areas in the regions, and the best available satellite data and remote sensing techniques have not been well applied to serve regional modeling of urbanization impacts on near surface temperature and other climate variables. Better estimates of localized urban fractions and urban climate effects are badly needed. Here we use high and mid resolution satellite data to estimate urban fractions and to assess effects of urban heat islands at local and regional scales. With our fractional cover, data fusion, and differentiated threshold approaches, estimated urban extent was greater than previously reported in many global datasets. Many city clusters were merging into each other, with gradual blurring boundaries and disappearing of gaps among member cities. Cities and towns were more connected with roads and commercial corridors, while wildland and urban greens became more isolated as patches among built-up areas. Those new estimates are expected to effectively improve climate simulation at local and regional scales in East Asia. There were significant positive relations between urban fraction and urban heat island effects as demonstrated by VNIR and TIR data from multiple satellites. Stronger warming was detected at the meteorological stations that experienced greater urbanization, i.e., those with a higher urbanization rate. While the total urban area affects the absolute temperature values, the change of the urban area (urbanization rate) likely affects the temperature trend. Increases of approximately 10% in urban area around the meteorological stations likely contributed to the 0.13◦C rise in air temperature records in addition to regional climate warming. This study also provides a new approach to selecting reference stations based on remotely sensed urban fractions.

Further reading: http://green.tea.ac.cn