Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Geography and Geology

Document Type



The purpose of this research is to increase understanding of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in Kentucky by studying its three largest cities: Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green. By examining the UHIs of these three cities, two major attributes can be determined: if there is a relationship between the size of the city by population and the UHI magnitude, and if UHI magnitude follows any diurnal and/or seasonal cycles. Data was collected from weather stations within the three major cities, as well as from weather stations located in the rural areas surrounding them. The length of the time series being considered is from 12/01/2009 through 11/30/2014. Urban stations are from the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) network, which is a quality-controlled weather data collection network operated by the National Weather Service (NWS). Rural stations are from the Kentucky Mesonet (KYMN), which is a mesoscale weather and climate observing network operated by the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU. This is the only world-class research-grade network to operate in Kentucky. Daily maximum and minimum temperature data, as well as monthly maximum and minimum temperature data were obtained for each of the weather stations. The pairwise difference between urban and rural observations was calculated, resulting in the UHI magnitude for each city. The analysis and visualization were conducted using MATLAB, a sophisticated computing software. The resulting graphs showed that a correlation between size of city and UHI magnitude does exist in Kentucky, as the largest city has both diurnal and seasonal cycles, Lexington has a weak seasonal cycle, and Bowling Green has no strong UHI cycles.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, Dr. Gregory Goodrich, Dr. Audra Jennings


Climate | Environmental Sciences | Geography | Meteorology