This study assesses surface urban heat island (SUHI) effects during heat waves in subtropical areas. Two cities in northern Taiwan, Taipei metropolis and its adjacent medium-sized city, Yilan, were selected for this empirical study. Daytime and night time surface temperature and SUHI intensity of both cities in five heat wave cases were obtained from MODIS Land-Surface Temperature (LST) and compared. In order to assess SUHI in finer spatial scale, an innovated three-dimensional Urbanization Index (3DUI) with a 5-m spatial resolution was developed to quantify urbanization from a 3-D perspective using Digital Terrain Models (DTMs). The correlation between 3DUI and surface temperatures were also assessed. The results obtained showed that the highest SUHI intensity in daytime was 10.2 °C in Taipei and 7.5 °C in Yilan. The SUHI intensity was also higher than that in non-heat-wave days (about 5 °C) in Taipei. The difference in SUHI intensity of both cities could be as small as only 1.0 °C, suggesting that SUHI intensity was enhanced in both large and medium-sized cities during heat waves. Moreover, the surface temperatures of rural areas in Taipei and Yilan were elevated in the intense heat wave cases, suggesting that the SUHI may reach a plateau when the heat waves get stronger and last longer. In addition, the correlation coefficient between 3DUI and surface temperature was greater than 0.6. The innovative 3DUI can be employed to assess the spatial variation of temperatures and SUHI intensity in much finer spatial resolutions than measurements obtained from remote sensing and weather stations. In summary, the empirical results demonstrated intensified SUHI in large and medium-sized cities in subtropical areas during heat waves which could result in heat stress risks of residents. The innovative 3DUI can be employed to identify vulnerable areas in fine spatial resolutions for formulation of heat wave adaptation strategies.
ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 81,1-11