I found out some amazing things by emailing Dr. Anders Knudby at Simon Fraser and asking about heat islands. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from looking at the maps. Here are excerpts from the email he sent me in reply:
From Dr. Anders Knudby: Surface temperature is the temperature of the ground. “If you walk barefoot on a parking lot on a sunny afternoon, it’s what will burn your feet 🙂. 31 July happens to be the beginning of the deadliest heat wave in Vancouver’s history(BCCDC estimates ~110 people died as a result of theheat), so it was fortunate timing for us to get the satellite image that was used to make that map. It’s pretty clear to see that built-up areas are hotter than others, and that vegetated areas are cool. Stanley Park is so cool you can hardly distinguish it from the surrounding water, the slopes of Burnaby Mountain are very cool, as is the entire area around Burnaby Lake. I’m sure you can find good examples from Surrey.”
He sent me another map as well: Air temperature is “the temperature you hear about in the weather forecast. This map has a more complex history, it is the product of some modeling done by one of my PhD students. The basic idea is that we model, statistically, how things like the surface temperature, vegetation, building density, elevation, proximity to water, and more – …relate to the air temperature at the hottest time of day… As you can see this map has less contrast, because air temperature varies more slowly through space. Also, it is less accurate than the LST map, because we get LST more or less as a direct measurement made by a satellite, while TA has to be modeled.
Thermal imaging maps and research from the Remote Sensing lab at Simon Fraser University (www.sfu.ca/remote-sensing).