Estimation of land surface temperature–vegetation abundance relationship for urban heat island studies

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 Estimation of land surface temperature–vegetation abundance relationship for urban heat island studies

Qihao Wenga, Dengsheng Lub,Jacquelyn Schubring

Remote Sensing of Environment 89 (2004) 467 – 483

Abstract Remote sensing of urban heat islands (UHIs) has traditionally used the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as the indicator of vegetation abundance to estimate the land surface temperature (LST) – vegetation relationship. This study investigates the applicability of vegetation fraction derived from a spectral mixture model as an alternative indicator of vegetation abundance. This is based on examination of a Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) image of Indianapolis City, IN, USA, acquired on June 22, 2002. The transformed ETM+ image was unmixed into three fraction images (green vegetation, dry soil, and shade) with a constrained least-square solution. These fraction images were then used for land cover classification based on a hybrid classification procedure that combined maximum likelihood and decision tree algorithms. Results demonstrate that LST possessed a slightly stronger negative correlation with the unmixed vegetation fraction than with NDVI for all land cover types across the spatial resolution (30 to 960 m). Correlations reached their strongest at the 120-m resolution, which is believed to be the operational scale of LST, NDVI, and vegetation fraction images. Fractal analysis of image texture shows that the complexity of these images increased initially with pixel aggregation and peaked around 120 m, but decreased with further aggregation. The spatial variability of texture in LST was positively correlated with those in NDVI and in vegetation fraction. The interplay between thermal and vegetation dynamics in the context of different land cover types leads to the variations in spectral radiance and texture in LST. These variations are also present in the other imagery, and are responsible for the spatial patterns of urban heat islands. It is suggested that the areal measure of vegetation abundance by unmixed vegetation fraction has a more direct correspondence with the radiative, thermal, and moisture properties of the Earth’s surface that determine LST
Keywords: Land surface temperature; Vegetation abundance; Urban heat island; Spectral mixture analysis; Fractal analysis

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