TitleUrban heat island impacts on plant phenology: intra-urban variability and response to land cover
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsZipper, SC, Schatz, J, Singh, A, Kucharik, CJ, Townsend, PA, Loheide, SP
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Date Published2016
ISBN Number1748-9326
Keywordsland surface phenology, remote sensing, sensor network, urban climate, urban ecology, urban heat island, vegetation phenology

Despite documented intra-urban heterogeneity in the urban heat island (UHI) effect, little is knownabout spatial or temporal variability in plant response to the UHI. Using an automated temperaturesensor network in conjunction with Landsat-derived remotely sensed estimates of start/end of thegrowing season, we investigate the impacts of the UHI on plant phenology in the city of Madison WI(USA) for the 2012–2014 growing seasons. Median urban growing season length (GSL) estimated fromtemperature sensors is ∼5 d longer than surrounding rural areas, and UHI impacts on GSL arerelatively consistent from year-to-year. Parks within urban areas experience a subdued expression ofGSL lengthening resulting from interactions between the UHI and a park cool island effect. Acrossall growing seasons, impervious cover in the area surrounding each temperature sensor explains >50%of observed variability in phenology. Comparisons between long-term estimates of annual meanphenological timing, derived from remote sensing, and temperature-based estimates of individualgrowing seasons show no relationship at the individual sensor level. The magnitude of disagreementbetween temperature-based and remotely sensed phenology is a function of impervious and grass coversurrounding the sensor, suggesting that realized GSL is controlled by both local land cover andmicrometeorological conditions.