Urban green spaces have been shown to decrease land surface temperature (LST) significantly. However, few studies have explored the relationships between urban green spaces and LST across different seasons at different spatial scales. In this study, using Changchun, China as a case study, landscape ecology and comparative approaches were employed quantitatively to investigate the effects of the composition and configuration of urban green spaces on the urban thermal environments. LST maps were retrieved from Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) data acquired on four dates that represented four different seasons, and detailed information of urban green spaces was extracted from high resolution imagery GF-1. Normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI) and six landscape metrics at patch, class, and landscape level were used to characterize the spatial patterns of urban green spaces. The results showed that urban green spaces did have significant cooling effects in all seasons, except for winter, but the effects varied considerably across the different seasons and green types, and seemed to depend on the NDVI and size of urban green spaces. Compared to shape metrics, the negative relationships between the LST and the area and the NDVI of urban green spaces were more significant. Both the composition and configuration of urban green spaces can affect the distribution of LST. Based on findings with one city, given a fixed area of urban green spaces, the number of green patches can positively or negatively affect the LST, depending on if the number is larger than a threshold or not, and the threshold varies according to the given area. These findings provide new perspectives, and further research is also suggested, to generate a better understanding of how urban green spaces affect the urban thermal environment.
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