Images of vegetation (left) and land surface temperature (right) in New York City on August 2, 2002


Maps by Robert Simmon using data from Landsat

Pavement and impervious surfaces make cities hotter. Plants and pervious surfaces make cities cooler through water retention and the cooling effect of evapotranspiration. In the maps above, notice that sparse vegetation on the left (white) corresponds to hotter areas on the right (pink to yellow). By contrast, dense vegetation (green) corresponds to cooler areas (blue).

Read more:

Earth Observatory - Urban Heat Islands

Earth Observatory - Vegetation limits city warming effects

Earth Observatory for Kids - Urban Heat Islands

DIY data analysis:

NEO Analysis - Hot in the city - exploring remote sensing

Additional visualization:

Urban Heat Island