Assessing local climate zones in arid cities: The case of Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada

Chuyuan Wang, Ariane Middel, Soe Myint, Shai Kaplan, Anthony J. Brazel, Jonas Lukasczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


The local climate zone (LCZ) classification scheme is a standardization framework to describe the form and function of cities for urban heat island (UHI) studies. This study classifies and evaluates LCZs for two arid desert cities in the Southwestern United States – Phoenix and Las Vegas – following the World Urban Database and Access Portal Tools (WUDAPT) method. Both cities are classified into seven built type LCZs and seven land-cover type LCZs at 100-m resolution using Google Earth, Saga GIS, and Landsat 8 scenes. Average surface cover properties (building fraction, impervious fraction, pervious fraction) and sky view factors of classified LCZs are then evaluated and compared to pre-defined LCZ representative ranges from the literature, and their implications on the surface UHI (SUHI) effect are explained. Results suggest that observed LCZ properties in arid desert environments do not always match the proposed value ranges from the literature, especially with regard to sky view factor (SVF) upper boundaries. Although the LCZ classification scheme was originally designed to describe local climates with respect to air temperature, our analysis shows that much can be learned from investigating land surface temperature (LST) in these zones. This study serves as a substantial new resource laying a foundation for assessing the SUHI in cities using the LCZ scheme, which could inform climate simulations at local and regional scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Land surface temperature
  • Land use land cover
  • Las Vegas
  • Local climate zone
  • Phoenix
  • Sky view factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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