CR 34:39-46 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/cr034039

The urban heat island in Salamanca (Spain) and its relationship to meteorological parameters

M. S. Alonso*, M. R. Fidalgo, J. L. Labajo

Department of General and Atmospheric Physics, University of Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain

ABSTRACT: An urban heat island (UHI) was found to exist in Salamanca, Spain—a medium-sized European city that has a continental climate and relatively little industrial pollution. We demonstrate that urban heating can occur in cities with these characteristics, giving rise to a microclimate that may alter the biological rhythm of the zone e.g. under these conditions, spring arrives earlier in the urban zone then in the rural zone. The study was carried out using data from 2 recording stations (one in and the other outside the city) for the years 1996–1998. The existence of a nocturnal UHI was observed, with a highest annual mean value of 3.6°C and a lowest annual mean value (cool island) of –0.9°C. The most intense nocturnal UHI was seen in autumn, while the strongest sinks occurred in spring and summer. As in other types of city with different characteristics, the UHI was seen to vary according to the atmospheric situation. The meteorological variables that most affected the UHI were found to be: (1) wind, which at speeds of >~6 m s–1 prevented the development of UHIs; (2) cloudiness, which altered the flux of incident solar radiation (the intensity of the nocturnal UHI was greater with high clouds); and (3) atmospheric pressure, which characterised the days of atmospheric stability or instability, leading to variations in the intensity of the UHI.


KEY WORDS: Urban heat island · Local climate · UHI sink · Wind · Cloudiness · Synoptic conditions · Salamanca


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