Ground surface temperature simulation for different land covers

William R Herb, Ben D Janke, Omid Mohseni, Heinz G. Stefan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


A model for predicting temperature time series for dry and wet land surfaces is described, as part of a larger project to assess the impact of urban development on the temperature of surface runoff and coldwater streams. Surface heat transfer processes on impervious and pervious land surfaces were investigated for both dry and wet weather periods. The surface heat transfer equations were combined with a numerical approximation of the 1-D unsteady heat diffusion equation to calculate pavement and soil temperature profiles to a depth of 10 m. Equations to predict the magnitude of the radiative, convective, conductive and evaporative heat fluxes at a dry or wet surface, using standard climate data as input, were developed. A model for the effect of plant canopies on surface heat transfer was included for vegetated land surfaces. Given suitable climate data, the model can simulate the land surface and sub-surface temperatures continuously throughout a six month time period or for a single rainfall event. Land surface temperatures have been successfully simulated for pavements, bare soil, short and tall grass, a forest, and two agricultural crops (corn and soybeans). The simulations were run for three different locations in US, and different years as imposed by the availability of measured soil temperature and climate data. To clarify the effect of land use on surface temperatures, the calibrated coefficients for each land use and the same soil coefficients were used to simulate surface temperatures for a six year climate data set from Albertville, MN. Asphalt and concrete give the highest surface temperatures, as expected, while vegetated surfaces gave the lowest. Bare soil gives surface temperatures that lie between those for pavements and plant-covered surfaces. The soil temperature model predicts hourly surface temperatures of bare soil and pavement with root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) of 1-2 °C, and hourly surface temperatures of vegetation-covered surfaces with RMSEs of 1-3 °C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-343
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2008


  • Heat transfer
  • Land use
  • Pavement
  • Temperature
  • Thermal pollution
  • Vegetation

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