Birmingham’s air and surface urban heat islands associated with Lamb weather types and cloudless anticyclonic conditions

Fang Zhang, Xiaoming Cai, John Thornes

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This study investigates the characteristics of the air and surface urban heat islands (aUHI and sUHI) of Birmingham in relation to Lamb weather types (LWTs) over the period 2002–2007, with a particular focus on cloudless anticyclonic conditions. Ground-based MIDAS air temperatures within the urban canopy layer at the urban Edgbaston and rural Shawbury weather stations were used to derive the aUHI intensity (aUHII). SatellitederivedMODIS/ Aqua land surface temperatures (LST) under cloudless conditions were used to derive the spatial
patterns of the sUHI as well as the sUHI intensity (sUHII). Using Jenkinson’s objective daily synoptic indices, a combined subset of 11 LWTs were examined for their association with the nocturnal aUHI. Over the study period, the most frequently occurring LWT, ‘anticyclonic’ (21.1%), gives a strongest mean/maximum nocturnal aUHII of 2.5C/7C (391 nights) and the largest proportion of nocturnal heat island events of 65.2%. The spatial patterns of nocturnal sUHI for each LWT were also assessed, and the results demonstrate Birmingham’s urban warming of up to 4.16C (48 clear nights) in the city centre under cloudless anticyclonic conditions. The scatter plot of nocturnal aUHII and sUHII for the 48 nights demonstrates a linear relationship. We also developed a
simple analytical model that links the slope of the aUHII–sUHII relationship to the difference of ‘built-up’ area fraction between the urban pixel and the rural pixel in satellite imagery of land cover. This partially explains the physical basis behind the relationship. These findings of the aUHII–sUHII relationship may lead to the future development of a generic methodology of deriving the spatial patterns of aUHI from satellite measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • air temperature
  • urban heat island
  • land surface temperature
  • Lamb weather types
  • Birmingham
  • anticyclonic


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