As the population of cities increase, so does the concern about anthropogenic climate modification on urban settlements. One of the best documented of these human impacts on urban climate is the urban heat island (UHI) effect (Arnfield, 2003). The UHI refers to the relative warmth of a city compared with the surrounding countryside. The occurrence of this phenomenon is the result of a complex interaction between climate, urban design, and structure and population related factors (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Generation of Urban Heat Island (modified from Rizman et al., 2008).

From thermal sensing remote evaluations to field measures, there are a wide range of methodological approaches in order to determine the UHI effect of a specific city. This study is based on the comparison of diverse micrometeorological parameters of two automatic weather stations (AWS) within the campus of the University of Reading (Fig. 2). In the first part of the paper, we examine the differences of SS and GH stations in diurnal cycles of air temperature average and incoming solar radiation. Second, we select individual days with largest differences to perform the same analysis. Additional meteorological parameters such as wind speed, albedo and atmospheric pressure, and environmental variables such as vegetation and urban geometry are used to gauge their influence in UHI.


Site description and methodology One of the AWS is installed on the sidewalk of the Soil Science building and the other within in grounds of the greenhouses (Fig. 2). Whilst the first one is characterized by an urban milieu, the latter is distinguished by more rural surroundings. The two AWS have temperature and humidity probes, anemometer and vane, and two pyranometers. In addition, the greenhouse station has soil moisture sensor, atmospheric pressure sensor and a raingauge.

Fig. 2. Location of the study area and satellite photo of the University of Reading campus where the AWS are situated (1: Soil Science; 2: greenhouses).

The Soil Science station (SS) is placed on the sidewalk between the Soil Science building and its annexed building (Fig. 3 (a)), configuring the classic urban canyon. Both the sidewalk and the road are covered with tarmac. The walls are made by brown bricks and the roof of the Soil Science building is fabricated of aluminum. On the other hand, the greenhouse station (GH) is settled within an open space between the greenhouses and the crops of the university, very closed to Harris Garden (Fig. 3 (b)). This implies that is a vegetated environment. Finally, the soil surface is a mosaic of patches of bare ground and grass (see Table 1 for further explanations).


Fig. 3. Pictures of the environment of the AWS: Soil Science (a) and greenhouse (b) stations.

The dataset were collected from the February the 2nd to March the 16th of the present year (Fig. 4 represent the pressure evolution during this time). The Table 2 shows the list of parameters we have used during the experiment. According to the University of Reading Atmospheric Observatory (, the average temperature of February and March is 4,6º and 6,7º C respectively (for the period of 1971-2001), the mean pressure. On the other hand is 1016,3 and 1015, 7 mbs.

Fig. 4. Pressure evolution of the months of February (a) and March of 2009 (b) (University of Reading Atmospheric Observatory;; the two anticyclones are highlighted with a circle. The analysis charts of February the 21st (c) and March the 15th (d) are represented (German Weather Service;


Results and discussion Studying the diurnal cycle of GH and SS air temperature average (Fig. 5 (a)); we found that the SS thermal wave amplitude is significantly smaller. Although there is almost no difference during daytime, just before the sunrise, the divergence of air temperatures starts to increase, thus reaching the maximum value of UHI at nighttime. These same results were found in quite different places such as Granada (Spain) and Fairbanks (Alaska, US) (Montávez et al., 2000; Magee et al., 1999). During the day solar heating overrides the rest of the meteorological and urban configuration factors (Oke, 1982), thereby buffering the differences between GH and SS air temperatures and hence reducing the UHI effect. In contrast, the largely dissimilarities during the night are due to the rapid GH cooling rate (Oke, 1982). There are three major factors that may contribute to explain this effect: thermal properties of the surrounding area, nocturnal conditions and urban geometry. Giridharan et al. (2005) argues that nocturnal UHI is a product of the daytime urban heat storage. This energy accumulated by the walls, road and roof of the SS building is released at night in form of heat, thereby holding up the SS cooling rate. One of the origins of this energy accumulation might be the considerably amount of incoming radia tion absorbed by the human made materials of the SS built environment. As the incoming solar radiation is very similar for both locations (Fig. 5 (b)), even greater in the GH site, possibly, because the Soil Science building shadows the AWS from early morning to midday (Fig. 3 (a)); the cause of the heat storage heterogeneity may be a result of differences of surface reflectivity. In our study, we found that SS albedo averaged was 0,10 larger than the GH, 0,24 and 0,14, respectively (see Fig. 6 to observe its evolution during the experiment; the anomaly of the first days were due to several snowfall events, Shahgedanova, personal communication). The high value found in the SS station may well be caused by the dark color and roughness of the tarmac road and sidewalk (Fig. 3 (a)) (Hamdi and Schayes, 2008). On the other hand, the lower GH albedo value is probably owing to the vegetation cover (Taha, 1997).


Aside from modifying surface albedo, plant cover also might affect other properties of the ground surface, such as evapotranspiration, soil density and specific heat capacity (Hamdi and Schayes, 2008). The Fig. 7 (a), which represents the daily trend of SS and GH relative humidity (RH), shows that in the greenhouse grounds (Fig. 3 (b)) are more levels of RH during nighttime. Because the air temperature of this site is cooler than the air in the grounds of Soil Science, the genesis of this circumstance may be attributed to the moisture obtained from plant and soil through evapotranspiration. The second key factor that may be a major cause to enhance the UHI magnitude during the night is the street geometry of the SS location. The two main parameters used in order to determine the relationship between urban geometry and UHI are the sky-view factor (SVF) and the high-to-width-ratio (H/W) (Oke, 1981). In our study we measured the latter, obtaining a relative high value of 3,2 for the street canyon of the Soil Science station. In consequence, it is possible to affirm then that the SS location is a relative narrow street canyon, where a large percent of the cold sky is displaced by the relatively warm sides of buildings (Oke, 1981). In short words, urban geometry may work as a trap for long-wave radiation, thus delaying cooling rates during nighttime (Oke, 1981). Nocturnal conditions are the last major aspect to consider. Nights often have clear skies and less wind. Morris et al. (2001) states that cloud cover and wind speed have an important effect in insolation and ventilation. The authors demonstrate that cloudless conditions are associated with the most developed UHI effect. They go on to say that the amount of cloud cover diminish the nocturnal radiative cooling, thereby lessening the difference between the urban and rural air temperature. The other key determinant of the strong UHI at night is its lower intensity of wind speed. In the Fig. 7 (b), which illustrates the SS and GH daily wind speed evolution, we observed that the lowest levels of wind speed occur during the night in both sites. According to Magee et al. (1999), low magnitudes of wind speed allow heat to store close to the surface without extensive mixing, thus strengthening the differences of air temperature between the urban and rural environments. 5

Aside from the well known tendency of temperature increase due to the seasonal progress, we can observe in Fig. 8 the opposite trend concerning the UHI. Although it is not very neat, the amount of negative values is congregate during the last days of the experiment (see the red circle in Fig. 8), thus reaching the lowest value of UHI (-1,9º C) March the 2nd at 11:00. This dynamics was found by other researchers like Magee et al. (1999) and Montávez et al. (2000). According to the first, whilst solar radiation loses nearly its influence due to the reduction of the length of day time, anthropogenic heat lost becomes more important. They go onto argue that winter UHI is considerably amplified by strong surface inversions during the winter. Two anomalies interrupt notably the cited trend (see black circles in Fig. 8); one is situated at the central area of the plot (around February the 21st ) and the other at the right hand side of the figure (15th and 16th of March). We found that the daily UHI average of these three days were the largest of our dataset (1,3º, 1,7º and 1,8º C, respectively), although the maximum
rd value was reached on March the 3 at 01:00. These deviations coincide with the days with

anticyclonic conditions (Fig. 4). Generally, anticyclones are related to calm clear nights (Shahgedanova et al., 1997) and hence they are ideal situations to reach the greatest magnitude of UHI effect. The data from March 15th may be a good example of this. Cloudless and low wind conditions can be interpreted from Fig. 9 (b) and (c) -the high quantity of incoming solar radiation might be a good indirect measured of cloudless. Finally, Fig. 9 (a) suggests that the UHI on this specific day was present even during daytime.

Conclusions The present survey demonstrates that two sites, within the university campus of Reading and separated for only few hundreds of meters, can have two completely different microc limates. These differences are based on the landscape configuration of the closest surroundings and amplify by seasonal and diurnal conditions, and meteorological factors.


On the one hand, the SS built materials absorb, store and release high quantities o f heating, thereby increasing the air temperature of the surroundings. Moreover, this warming is trapped because the peculiar urban geometry, not allowing the mixing with adjacent zones. On the other hand, in the GH environment, the reflection of lots of radiant energy and the process of evapotranspiration realized by plants and soil permit a quickly air temperature cooling during nighttime. These differences of temperature, called urban heat island effect (UHI), can be heightened by anticyclonic conditions , which are associated with calm clear skies.

Acknowledgements My thanks to Richard Tegg for help me in measuring the heig ht of the Soil Science Building and Michael Roy Stroud to send me the monthly and annual average temperatures of Reading.

Arnfield, A.J. (2003) Two decades of urban climate research: a review of turbulence, exchanges of energy and water, and the urban heat island. International Journal of Climatology, 23: 1–26. German Weather Service ( Giridharan, R., Lau, S.S.Y. and Ganesan, S. (2005) Nocturnal heat island effect in urban residential developments of Hong Kong. Energy and Building, 37: 964– 971. Hamdi, R. and Schayes, G. (2008) Sensitivity study of the urban heat island intensity to urban characteristics. International Journal of Climatology, 28: 973– 982. Magee, N., Curtis, J. & Wendler, G. (1999) The urban heat island effect at Fairbanks, Alaska. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 64: 39–47. Montávez, J.P., Rodriguez, A. and Jimenez, J.I. (2000) A study of the urban heat island of Granada. International Journal of Climatology, 20: 899– 911. Morris, C.J.G., Simmonds, I., and Plummer, N. (2001) Quantification of the Influences of Wind and Cloud on the Nocturnal Urban Heat Island of a Large City. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 40: 169– 182. Oke, T.R. (1981) Canyon geometry and the nocturnal urban heat island: Comparison of scale model and field observations. International Journal of Climatology, 108: 237–254. Oke, T.R. (1982) The energetic basis of the urban heat island. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 108: 1–24.


Rizwan, A.M, Dennis, Y.C.L. and Liu, C. (2008) A review on the generation, determination and mitigation of Urban Heat Island. Journal of Environmental Sciences 20, 120–128. Shahgedanova, M., Burt T.P. and Davies, T.D. (1997) Some aspects of the three-dimensional heat island in Moscow. International Journal of Climatology, 17: 1451– 1465. Taha, H. (1997) Urban climates and heat islands: albedo, evapotranspiration, and anthropogenic heat. Energy and Buildings, 25: 99–103. University of Reading Atmospheric Observatory (


Table 1. Field observations and site description.
Site 1 Time 01:15 PM Site and weather description • • • • • • The urban geometry consists in a street canyon. Because this convergent structure, it could be a windy location. The AWS is situated over a dark tarmac sidewalk. A black tarmac road covers the whole length of the short street. Both the sidewalk and the road are impervious surfaces. A tall brown brick building (Soil Science) was located just behind the AWS. The roof of this building is made by aluminum and has a salient that projects shadow. The small traffic around the area might be a factor to consider. Cloudiness 6 - stratocumulus


01:45 PM

• •

The AWS was situated in open space in the middle of the greenhouses. Besides the crops and plants of the greenhouses, there is plenty of vegetation in the surroundings. The soil over the AWS consists in grass and bare ground. There is a tall eucalyptus really close to the AWS. The Harris Garden is situated near the location of the GH AWS.

6 - stratocumulus

• • •

Table 2. List of parameters used in the analysis.
Parameter Rain Wind speed Direction Gust speed DewPt Relative Humidity Water Content Incoming Solar Radiation Solar Radiation Reflected Albedo Unit mm m/s º m/s ºC % m3/m3 W/m3 W/m3 % Observations

ISR SRR SRR / ISR at 12:00


(a) 10,0 9,0 8,0 Temperature (ºC) 6,0 5,0 4,0 3,0 2,0 1,0 0,0 Tss Tgh -0,2 ?Tss-gh -0,4 0,2 0,0 50,00 0,00 ISR (W/m2) 7,0 0,6 0,4 UHI (ºC) 1,0 0,8 300,00 250,00 200,00 150,00 100,00





Fig. 5. SS and GH daily temperature, and daily UHI intensity evolution (a); and daily incoming solar radiation (ISR) evolution (b).

1 0,9 0,8 0,7 0,6 0,5 0,4 0,3 0,2 0,1 0


Rgh Rss


Fig. 6. Reflectivity evolution during the 42 days of experiment.

(a) 95,00 1,4 1,2 Wind Speed (m/s) 1 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2 0



WSg h

RH (%)


80,00 RHgh 75,00 RHss 70,00



Fig. 7. SS and GH daily wind speed (a); and daily relative humidity (RH) (b).


20 Tgh 15 Temperature (ºC) Tss ?Tss-gh 10

4 3 2 1 UHI (ºC) ISRgh ISRss 400 300 200 100 0

5 0 0 -1 -5 -2 -3


Fig. 8. SS and GH temperature and UHI intensity evolution during the 42 days of experiment. Black circles represent days with anticyclonic conditions and red circles, days with negative UHI.

(a) 18 16 14 Temperature (ºC) 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Tgh Tss ?Tss-gh 0 3 2,5 ISR (W/m2) 2 1,5 1 0,5 UHI (ºC) 700 600 500


Hour (c) 1,8 1,6 1,4 Wind Speed (m/s) 1,2 1 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2 0 WSgh WSss



Fig. 9. SS and GH temperature, and UHI intensity evolution (a); incoming solar radiation (ISR) evolution

(b); and wind speed evolution (c) of March 15th of 2009.

Ramiro A znar Ballarín


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