Urban Heat Island Effect

Average summer daytime maximum/nighttime minimum land surface temperatures (LSTs) for urban extents, as well as the LST difference between the urban area and the buffer

  • Source: CIESIN
  • Last update: -

The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect represents the relatively higher temperatures found in urban areas compared to surrounding rural areas owing to higher proportions of impervious surfaces and the release of waste heat from vehicles and heating and cooling systems. Paved surfaces and built structures tend to absorb shortwave radiation from the sun and release long-wave radiation after a lag of a few hours. The Global Urban Heat Island Data Set, 2013, estimates the land surface temperature in urban areas in degrees Celsius (average summer daytime maximum and average summer nighttime minimum) as well as the difference between those temperatures and the temperatures in surrounding rural areas, defined as a 10 km buffer around the urban extent. Urban extents are from SEDAC’s Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project, Version 1 (GRUMPv1), and land surface temperatures are from SEDAC’s Global Summer Land Surface Temperature (LST) Grids, 2013, which are derived from the Aqua Level-3 Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Version 5, global daytime and nighttime Land Surface Temperature (LST) 8-day composite data (MYD11A2). For most regions, the UHI data set provides the average daytime maximum (1:30 p.m. overpass) and average nighttime minimum (1:30 a.m. overpass) temperatures in urban and rural areas, and the urban-rural temperature differences, derived from LST data representing a 40-day time span during July-August (Julian days 185-224) in the Northern Hemisphere and January-February (Julian days 001-040) in the Southern Hemisphere. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Formal name

Global Urban Heat Island (UHI) Data Set, v1 (2013)


LST grid cells with missing values resulting from high cloud cover in tropical regions were filled with daytime maximum and nighttime minimum LST values from April to May 2013 in the Northern Hemisphere and December 2013 to January 2014 in the Southern Hemisphere, where available. Some data gaps remain in areas where data were insufficient (e.g., Central Africa).

Suggested citation

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University. 2016. Global Urban Heat Island (UHI) Data Set, 2013. Palisades, NY: NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC).http://dx.doi.org/10.7927/H4H70CRF. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. Accessed through Resource Watch, date. www.resourcewatch.org.


Columbia University Earth Institute Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

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