Comparative analysis of urban reflectance and surface temperature

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Remote Sensing of Environment
Journal Date: 
Sep 30
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Urban environmental conditions are strongly dependent on the biophysical properties and radiant thermal field of the land cover elements in the urban mosaic. Observations of urban reflectance and surface temperature provide valuable constraints on the physical properties that are determinants of mass and energy fluxes in the urban environment. Consistencies in the covariation of surface temperature with reflectance properties can be parameterized to represent characteristics of the surface energy flux associated with different land covers and physical conditions. Linear mixture models can accurately represent Landsat ETM+ reflectances as fractions of generic spectral endmembers that correspond to land surface materials with distinct physical properties. Modeling heterogeneous land cover as mixtures of rock and/or soil Substrate, Vegetation and non-reflective Dark surface (SVD) generic endmembers makes it possible to quantify the dependence of aggregate surface temperature on the relative abundance of each physical component of the land cover, thereby distinguishing the effects of vegetation abundance, soil exposure, albedo and shadowing. Comparing these covariations in a wide variety of urban settings and physical environments provides a more robust indication of the global variability in these parameter spaces than could be inferred from a single study area. A comparative analysis of 24 urban areas and their non-urban peripheries illustrates the variability in the urban thermal fields and its dependence on biophysical land surface components. Contrary to expectation, moderate resolution intra-urban variations in surface temperature are generally as large as regional surface heat island signatures in these urban areas. Many of the non-temperate urban areas did Dot have surface heat island signatures at all. However, the multivariate distributions of surface temperature and generic endmember fractions reveal consistent patterns of thermal fraction covariation resulting from land cover characteristics. The Thermal-Vegetation (TV) fraction space illustrates the considerable variability in the well-known inverse correlation between surface temperature and vegetation fraction at moderate (< 100 m) spatial resolutions. The Thermal-Substrate (TS) fraction space reveals energetic thresholds where competing effects of albedo, illumination and soil moisture determine the covariation of maximum and minimum temperature with illuminated substrate fraction. The dark surface endmember fraction represents a fundamental ambiguity in the radiance signal because it can correspond to either absorptive (e.g. low albedo asphalt), transmissive (e.g. deep clear water) or shadowed (e.g. tree canopy shadow) surfaces. However, in areas where dark surface composition can be inferred from spatial context, the different responses of these surfaces may still allow them to be distinguished in the thermal fraction space. (c) 2006 Published by Elsevier Inc.


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DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2005.10.029