Recent developments in computational software and public accessibility of gridded climatological data have enabled researchers to study Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects more systematically and at a higher spatial resolution. Previous studies have analyzed UHI and identified significant contributors at the regional level for cities, within the topology of urban canyons, and for different construction materials.
In UHIs, air is heated by the convective energy transfer from land surface materials and anthropogenic activities. Convection is dependent upon the temperature of the surface, temperature of the air, wind speed, and relative humidity. At the same time, air temperature is also influenced by greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Climatologists project a 1-5°C increase in near-surface air temperature over the next several decades, and 1-4°C specifically for Los Angeles and Maricopa during summertime due to GHG effects. With higher ambient air temperatures, we seek to understand how convection will change in cities and to what ends.
In this paper we develop a spatially explicit methodology for quantifying UHI by estimating the daily convection thermal energy transfer from land to air using publicly-available gridded climatological data, and we estimate how much additional energy will be retained due to lack of convective cooling in scenarios of higher ambient air temperature.