Satellite air temperature estimation for monitoring the canopy layer heat island of Milan

Manuele Pichierri, Stefania Bonafoni, Riccardo Biondi

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    In this work, satellite maps of the urban heat island of Milan are produced using satellite-based infrared sensor data. For this aim, we developed suitable algorithms employing satellite brightness temperatures for the direct air temperature estimation 2 m above the surface (canopy layer), showing accuracies below 2K. The air temperatures measured by ground-based weather stations were properly matched with brightness temperatures observed by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board of both Terra and Aqua satellites. In total, 931 daytime and nighttime scenes taken between 2007 and 2010 were processed. Analysis of the canopy layer heat island (CLHI) maps during summer months reveals an average heat island effect of 3–4K during nighttime (with some peaks around 5K) and a weak CLHI intensity during daytime. In addition, the satellite maps reveal a well defined island shape across the city center from June to September confirming that, in Milan, urban heating is not an occasional phenomenon. Furthermore, this study shows the utility of space missions to monitor the metropolis heat islands if they are able to provide nighttime observations when CLHI peaks are generally significant.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
    Pages (from-to)130-138
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Canopy layer heat island
    • Satellite-based sensor
    • Air temperature
    • Retrieval algorithm


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