A Geospatial Analysis of the Urban Heat Island Effect in Austin, TX
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Over the past 30 years, Central Texas has become a highly desirable location to live, resulting in Austin being one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Given the rapid population growth and associated development of Austin and surrounding suburbs, the region provides a good case study to analyze the Surface Urban Heat Island (SUHI) using thermal remote sensing data. The increase in population is logically correlated to an increase of urban development, which is a contributing factor of UHIs. Since UHIs negatively impact people’s health and the environment, monitoring UHIs is of critical importance. The focus of this study will be to determine if land surface temperatures (LST) have increased in Austin, Texas between 1993 and 2011 and whether land cover type influences surface temperature. Although the existing literature has demonstrated the connections between land cover type and surface temperature for selected cities, an analysis of the Austin, Texas metropolitan area has not been conducted. Therefore, methods drawn from previously performed analysis were utilized to develop a framework for geospatial analysis of surface temperatures in Austin. Results indicate the presence of the UHI effect. Results show that the average surface temperature for Austin increased by 4.7 degrees C between 1993 to 2011. The largest temperature increases occurred for developed, barren, and cultivated land class.