NASA ARSET – Introductory Webinar: Satellite Remote Sensing for Urban Heat Islands

NASA ARSET – Introductory Webinar: Satellite Remote Sensing for Urban Heat Islands

Tuesdays, November 10 – November 24, 2020
10:00-11:30 EST (Session A) or 16:00-17:30 EST (Session B)

The rapid growth of urban populations, the urban heat islands (UHI) effect, and a potential increase in the frequency and duration of heatwaves due to climate change, raise a series of issues about the increased health risks of sensitive urban populations to extreme heat and the effective means of mitigating impacts of heatwaves.

An urban heat island occurs when a city experiences much warmer temperatures than in nearby rural areas. The difference in temperature between urban and less-developed rural areas has to do with how well the surfaces in each environment absorb and hold heat.

According to the US EPA, urban heat islands affect energy consumption, elevate greenhouse gas emissions, and impair water quality by increasing the temperature of urban water runoff.

An illustration of an urban heat islands
An illustration of an urban heat island. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This will be ARSET‘s first training on remote sensing for urban heat island and will be in collaboration with NOAA’s Climate Program Office.

This training will address the use of remote sensing in determining where “hot spots” of land surface temperature are located in urban areas, why these areas are experiencing increased temperature, which populations are most vulnerable, and ways to mitigate the effects through adaptive land-use planning.


  • Define what an urban heat islands (UHI) is and why it matters to urban planners and public health experts
  • Identify which satellites and sensors can be used for assessing UHI
  • Give examples of populations that are especially susceptible to heat stress
  • Summarize the limitations of satellite data for understanding UHI
  • Recognize new methods that incorporate conventional satellite remote sensing data and in situ observations of temperature and humidity from community science and urban field campaigns
  • List what landscape features help to explain variations in urban heat islands
  • Compute land surface temperature from Landsat 4, 5, 7, and 8 within Google Earth Engine


Part 1: Land Surface Temperature-Based Urban Heat Island Mapping

  • Overview of ARSET, background on urban heat islands (UHI), satellites & sensors for monitoring UHI, limitations of satellite data, demonstration of converting Landsat 4-8 thermal data to land surface temperature (LST), and Q&A session

Part 2: Integrating In-Situ Observations with Satellite Imagery

  • Review previous session and introduce guest speaker, background with case studies integrating in situ observations with satellite imagery in select US cities, and Q&A session

Part 3: Mitigating UHI via Long-Term Urban Climate Monitoring

  • Review previous sessions and introduce guest speakers, USGS/NOAA case studies using Landsat ARD-LST to assess UHI in select US cities and diurnal effects of UHI using GOES LST with land cover, DEVELOP case study of UHI and land cover in Huntsville, AL, and Q&A session


Community, municipal, city, state, federal, and private institutions involved in urban planning, health care, energy supply and demand management, and climate mitigation.

Register for Session 10:00-11:30 EST (Session A) Register for Session 16:00-17:30 EST (Session B)

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