Dense network observations of the Twin Cities Canopy-Layer urban heat island

Brian V. Smoliak, Peter K. Snyder, Tracy E. Twine, Phillip M. Mykleby, William F. Hertel

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Data from a dense urban meteorological network (UMN) are analyzed, revealing the spatial heterogeneity and temporal variability of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota) canopy-layer urban heat island (UHI). Data from individual sensors represent surface air temperature (SAT) across a variety of local climate zones within a 5000-km2 area and span the 3-yr period from 1 August 2011 to 1 August 2014. Irregularly spaced data are interpolated to a uniform 1 km × 1 km grid using two statistical methods: 1) kriging and 2) cokriging with impervious surface area data. The cokriged SAT field exhibits lower bias and lower RMSE than does the kriged SAT field when evaluated against an independent set of observations. Maps, time series, and statistics that are based on the cokriged field are presented to describe the spatial structure and magnitude of the Twin Cities metropolitan area (TCMA) UHI on hourly, daily, and seasonal time scales. The average diurnal variation of the TCMA UHI exhibits distinct seasonal modulation wherein the daily maximum occurs by night during summer and by day during winter. Daily variations in the UHI magnitude are linked to changes in weather patterns. Seasonal variations in the UHI magnitude are discussed in terms of land-atmosphere interactions. To the extent that they more fully resolve the spatial structure of the UHI, dense UMNs are advantageous relative to limited collections of existing urban meteorological observations. Dense UMNs are thus capable of providing valuable information for UHI monitoring and for implementing and evaluating UHI mitigation efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1899-1917
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2015

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Meteorological Society.


  • Temperature
  • Urban meteorology


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