Former Summer Fellow Authors Paper on Urban Heat Island Effect


Andrew Trlica, a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth & Environment and a 2015 Graduate Summer Fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, is the first author on a recent paper titled “Albedo, Land Cover, and Daytime Surface Temperature Variation Across an Urbanized Landscape” published in the journal Earth’s Future.

In the paper, he explores the relationship of urban albedo (i.e. surface brightness) to other urban land cover characteristics in and around Boston, notably using 30-meter remote sensing measurements (as opposed to much coarser resolution data used in most urban landscape albedo studies to date). He found that a correlation of lower albedo with increasing urbanization and temperature emerged only after aggregating data to a 500-meter scale, but that the most urbanized towns in the region had a mean mid-morning land surface temperature of up to 12.6°C higher than the least urbanized towns. Changes in albedo were also shown to be associated with changes in tree canopy cover, impervious surface cover, and population density. The study results offer valuable context for climate-resilient urban planning.

The paper stems from his research as a Pardee Center Graduate Summer Fellow in 2015, where he studied the relationship of surface albedo and local urban heat island effect in the Boston metropolitan area.