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Numerous studies show that urban morphologies and land covers generate excess heat emissions and retain heat relative to surrounding rural areas, known as the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Urban fabrics paved by concretes and asphalts absorbs solar radiation during solar peak then radiates heat after sundown. This study investigates temperature distribution data related to the UHI effect on the Belknap campus at the University of Louisville, which represents a small aerial sample of the Louisville metropolitan UHI effect. The objective of this study is to measure the reflectivity of ground surfaces and air temperatures on the Belknap campus during the Summer, Fall, and Winter seasons. Heat reflected off ground surfaces (i.e. concrete, asphalt, brick, and lawns) and air temperature was systematically measured using a portable infrared thermometer and a weather meter 5500. The data was transformed into thermal surface maps, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, and Excel graphs. 2 hours after recorded sundown, the data suggests asphalt retains and emits the most heat opposed to lawns in each season. In addition, average air and IR temps cool in Fall and Winter but not in Summer, which may indicate the UHI effect is stronger in summer. In conclusion, increasing tree cover and vegetation on campus in areas prevalent with paved ground surfaces could be a step to help mitigate the UHI effect on campus. Furthermore, steps to mitigate the campus UHI effect could potentially be replicated at the city level to reduce metro Louisville’s UHI effect.

Publication Date

Spring 2020


UHI effect; Belknap Campus; IR Thermometer; Weather Meter; Ground surface types; Heat Reflectivity


Environmental Education | Environmental Health and Protection | Geographic Information Sciences | Nature and Society Relations | Other Environmental Sciences | Physical and Environmental Geography | Spatial Science | Sustainability | Urban Studies and Planning


Thank you to my mentor Jafar Hadizadeh, professor Jason Naylor, and Bob Forbes in Geography & Geosciences Department for making this research project doable!

The Belknap Campus and Metro Louisville Urban Heat Island effect: Air and  ground surface temperature analysis