Micrometeorological determinants of pedestrian thermal exposure during record-breaking heat in Tempe, Arizona: Introducing the MaRTy observational platform

Ariane Middel, E. Scott Krayenhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


We report the first set of urban micrometeorological measurements for assessment of pedestrian thermal exposure during extreme heat in a dry climate. Hourly measurements of air temperature, humidity, wind speed and six-directional shortwave and longwave radiation were recorded with a mobile human-biometeorological station (MaRTy) from 10:00 to 21:00 local time, June 19, 2016, at 22 sites that include diverse microscale urban land cover. Sky view factor (SVF) and 360° pervious and impervious view factors for each location were calculated from six-directional fisheye photographs. Mean radiant temperature (TMRT) was determined using the six-directional method. Three-dimensional radiation budgets were decomposed into directional weighted shortwave and longwave radiation components to create a distinct TMRT profile for each site and determine the main drivers of TMRT and thermal exposure. Air temperature peaked locally at 48.5 °C, with a maximum TMRT of 76.4 °C at 15:00 MST in an east-west building canyon. Longwave radiation measured by laterally-oriented sensors dominated the TMRT budget, suggesting the importance of cooling vertical surfaces adjacent to pedestrians. Lateral shortwave radiation contributions were most spatially and temporally variable across TMRT profiles, reflecting the diverse shade conditions. The largest radiation fluxes contributing to TMRT were particularly sensitive to shade and secondarily to ground cover. Trees reduced afternoon TMRT up to 33.4 °C but exhibited a clear TMRT increase of up to 5 °C after sunset; during daytime, trees generated ground cover-dependent longwave radiant cooling or warming. Replacement of impervious with pervious ground cover cooled TMRT at all measurement times, even under dense tree shade. While recent work has found that adaptation cannot offset projected urban air temperature increases, outdoor thermal exposure depends on additional micrometeorological variables, including shortwave and longwave radiation, indicating the need and the opportunity to create pedestrian spaces that are radiantly cool within the context of future urban heat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-151
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Oct 15 2019


  • Extreme heat
  • MaRTy
  • Mean radiant temperature
  • Microscale Urban Design
  • Radiation budget decomposition
  • Thermal comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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