Atlanta Heat Island

Atlanta Heat Island
Atlanta Land Use (bottom) and Thermal Image (top)

Thermal image of Atlanta
Thermal Image of Atlanta

These scenes show land classification and temperature map of Atlanta, Georgia derived from the Landsat Thematic Mapper instrument. The land classification image is derived from the TM's six reflective radiation spectral channels. The temperature map is computed from the TM thermal infrared spectral channel. Land use types are classified in ten categories, with dark grey being urban areas, light grey for suburban areas, shades of green showing various evergreen and conifer tree coverage, grassy areas, golf courses, and agriculture, while orange shows dedicious trees, and blue shows water. In the thermal band "floating" over the city, blue represents cooler areas, shades of yellow express intermediate temperatures, and red shows hotter areas.

Researchers used data from Landsat like this shown above to measure the effect the city has on its environment. The strong correlation between urban and suburban areas and enhanced temperatures is easily seen. In the case of Atlanta, the city regularly exceeds the temperature of the surrounding environment by as much as ten degrees. This extreme difference causes a number of effects, including the generation of thunderstorms and promotion of ground level ozone.

More complete information on the Atlanta Heat Island is available.

Images: Atlanta Heat Island: Medium resolution TIFF (1.5 M)
Thermal image of Atlanta: Medium resolution TIFF (1.7 M)
Atlanta Heat Island: High resolution TIFF (5.5 M)
Thermal image of Atlanta: High resolution TIFF (5.1 M)

Technical notes:
Rendered: March 1999
Data source: Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper; Data courtesy of C.P. Lo (University of Georgia)
For: Goddard Public Affairs Office