Spatial variability of frontal area index and its relationship with urban heat island intensity

Man Sing Wong, Janet Elizabeth Nichol

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


In densely urbanized regions, the local climate is greatly influenced by the urban morphology, including interactions between buildings, space, and human activities. The Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong, with some of the greatest urban population densities in the world, represents an extreme case of the influence of the built environment on climate, with high-rise buildings, narrow street canyons, and little green space. In this study, the building frontal area index (FAI), a parameter for estimating aerodynamic resistance of the urban surface as a predictor of wind ventilation, was derived from a three-dimensional building database. The relationship between FAI and urban heat island intensity (UHII) from an Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) satellite image was calculated at different scales. The highest correlation (r = 0.574, n = 4900) was obtained at 100 m resolution, which suggests that the optimum operational scale of FAI is 100 m resolution for the study area, i.e. the scale and size at which FAI impacts on the urban climate. The presence/trend of any higher correlation at different resolutions was tested using the nonparametric Mann-Kendall test, and the results show that the statistic Z-value generated from the test is smaller than the hypothesis significance levels of 90%, 95%, and 99%; thus, the hypothesis of having a higher correlation at any scale other than 100 m resolution is rejected. Planning authorities may use the FAI generated at 100 m resolution for designing wind ventilation corridors across Hong Kong at this scale, especially when temperature and air quality in the inner city are of major concern. However, for applications to other cities with different standard morphologies, the FAI-UHII relationship should be re-evaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-896
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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