A Multicity Analysis of Daytime Surface Urban Heat Islands in India and the US

Published in: Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 77 (February 2022). doi: 10.1016/j.scs.2021.103568

Posted on RAND.org on February 25, 2022

by Surekha Tetali, Nina Baird, Kelly Klima

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Daytime surface UHI (SUHI) and the factors influencing it across highly populated cities in India and the United States (US) were evaluated. Urban-rural mean land surface temperature (LST) differences (ΔTS) were calculated and correlated with vegetation and built-up surface densities, quantified using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Index Based Built-Up Index (IBI) respectively. The results from the US show a conventional SUHI phenomenon, and LST decrease with increasing vegetation and decreasing built-up surfaces. However, in India, despite existing urban densities, urban areas are cooler than the rural surroundings. The average LST was higher and NDVI was lower compared to the US, and NDVI and LST correlations were weak. Furthermore, in India, the average IBI values calculated for built-up areas, cropland, and other sparse vegetation land covers were approximately equal. The prevalence of non-photosynthetic vegetation (NPV) and barren soil in India are impacting spectral indices and the correlations. Differences in ΔTS and spectral indices trends between India and US highlight the shortcomings of the indices used in appropriately identifying Indian LULC types and establish the need for localized SUHI research methods that can specifically analyze the impact of urbanization on SUHI in India.

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