Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geography & Geographic Information Science

First Advisor

Christopher Atkinson


Urban heat islands are urban areas that become large enough to impact local climate, specifically by increasing temperatures. Urban centers are made of surfaces, high concentrations of buildings, and greenhouse gases that are susceptible to retaining heat. As more people move into cities, more space is needed for urbanization, increasing factors that raise temperature. This also affects energy demand, increases need for maintenance, and affects climate sensitive people.

Using the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, the objective is to demonstrate the urban heat island effect to see the extent to which heat islands impact urban climate. The years under observation cover 1985 to 2014 and include winter months and summer months. Methods include collecting minimum temperature data from weather stations within the study area. Temperature progression is exhibited by making tables that show temperature difference between 1985 and 2014. Charts demonstrate temperature trends for each individual weather station. Urban heat island intensity is displayed by producing maps that illustrate the urban heat island effect, and by using the Pearson correlation coefficient and difference of means test.

The null hypothesis for this thesis was that urban heat islands do not have a significant impact on urban climate. The results, however, represent a well-defined urban heat island in Oklahoma City as supported by two-sample (rural versus urban) difference of means tests. Since the urban heat island effect is obvious, the conclusion is that urban heat islands have a significant impact on urban climate regarding temperature.