Does the spatial arrangement of vegetation and anthropogenic land cover features matter? Case studies of urban warming and cooling in Phoenix and Las Vegas

Monday, 15 December 2014
Soe Win Myint, Baojuan Zheng, Chao Fan, Shai Kaplan, Anthony Brazel, Ariane Middel and Martin Smith, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States
While the relationship between fractional cover of anthropogenic and vegetation features and the urban heat island has been well studied, the effect of spatial arrangements (e.g., clustered, dispersed) of these features on urban warming or cooling are not well understood. The goal of this study is to examine if and how spatial configuration of land cover features influence land surface temperatures (LST) in urban areas. This study focuses on Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV that have undergone dramatic urban expansion. The data used to classify detailed urban land cover types include Geoeye-1 (Las Vegas) and QuickBird (Phoenix). The Geoeye-1 image (3 m resolution) was acquired on October 12, 2011 and the QuickBird image (2.4 m resolution) was taken on May 29, 2007. Classification was performed using object based image analysis (OBIA). We employed a spatial autocorrelation approach (i.e., Moran’s I) that measures the spatial dependence of a point to its neighboring points and describes how clustered or dispersed points are arranged in space. We used Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data acquired over Phoenix (daytime on June 10, 2011 and nighttime on October 17, 2011) and Las Vegas (daytime on July 6, 2005 and nighttime on August 27, 2005) to examine daytime and nighttime LST with regards to the spatial arrangement of anthropogenic and vegetation features. We spatially correlate Moran’s I values of each land cover per surface temperature, and develop regression models. The spatial configuration of grass and trees shows strong negative correlations with LST, implying that clustered vegetation lowers surface temperatures more effectively. In contrast, a clustered spatial arrangement of anthropogenic land-cover features, especially impervious surfaces, significantly elevates surface temperatures. Results from this study suggest that the spatial configuration of anthropogenic and vegetation features influence urban warming and cooling.