The urban heat island is generally conducted based on ground observations of air temperature and remotely sensing of land surface temperature (LST). Satellite remotely sensed LST has the advantages of global coverage and consistent periodicity, which overcomes the weakness of ground observations related to sparse distributions and costs. For human related studies and urban climatology, canopy layer urban heat island (CUHI) based on air temperatures is extremely important. This study has employed remote sensing methodology to produce monthly CUHI climatology maps during the period 2000–2013, revealing the spatiotemporal characteristics of daytime and nighttime CUHI during this period of rapid urbanization in Shanghai. Using stepwise linear regression, daytime and nighttime air temperatures at the four overpass times of Terra/Aqua were estimated based on time series of Terra/Aqua-MODIS LST and other auxiliary variables including enhanced vegetation index, normalized difference water index, solar zenith angle and distance to coast. The validation results indicate that the models produced an accuracy of 1.6–2.6 °C RMSE for the four overpass times of Terra/Aqua. The models based on Terra LST showed higher accuracy than those based on Aqua LST, and nighttime air temperature estimation had higher accuracy than daytime. The seasonal analysis shows daytime CUHI is strongest in summer and weakest in winter, while nighttime CUHI is weakest in summer and strongest in autumn. The annual mean daytime CUHI during 2000–2013 is 1.0 and 2.2 °C for Terra and Aqua overpass, respectively. The annual mean nighttime CUHI is about 1.0 °C for both Terra and Aqua overpass. The resultant CUHI climatology maps provide a spatiotemporal quantification of CUHI with emphasis on temperature gradients. This study has provided information of relevance to urban planners and environmental managers for assessing and monitoring urban thermal environments which are constantly being altered by natural and anthropogenic influences.
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