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Responses of Land Surface Temperature to Long-Term Land Use/Cover Changes

Urban growth and its associated expansion of built-up areas are expected to continue through to the twenty second century and at a faster pace in developing countries. This has the potential to increase thermal discomfort and heat-related distress. There is thus a need to monitor growth patterns, especially in resource constrained countries such as Africa, where few studies have so far been conducted.

Study Area and Data used: - In view of this, this study compares urban growth and temperature response patterns in Freetown and Bo town in Sierra Leone. Multispectral Landsat images obtained in 1998, 2000, 2007, and 2015 are used to quantify growth and land surface temperature responses. The contribution index (CI) is used to explain how changes per land use and land cover class (LULC) contributed to average city surface temperatures. The population size of Freetown was about eight times greater than in Bo town.

Results: -Landsat data mapped urban growth patterns with a high accuracy (Overall Accuracy > 80%) for both cities. Significant changes in LULC were noted in Freetown, characterized by a 114 sq km decrease in agriculture area, 23 sq km increase in dense vegetation, and 77 sq km increase in built-up area. Between 1998 and 2015, built-up area increased by 16 sq km, while dense vegetation area decreased by 14 sq km in Bo town. Average surface temperature increased from 23.7 to 25.5 °C in Freetown and from 24.9 to 28.2 °C in Bo town during the same period. Despite the larger population size and greater built-up extent, as well as expansion rate, Freetown was 2 °C cooler than Bo town in all periods. The low temperatures are attributed to proximity to sea and the very large proportion of vegetation surrounding the city. Even close to the sea and abundant vegetation, the built-up area had an elevated temperature compared to the surroundings. The findings are important for formulating heat mitigation strategies for both inland and coastal cities in developing countries.

Citation: Musa Tarawally, Wenbo Xu, Weiming Hou and Terence Darlington Mushore, 2018. "Comparative Analysis of Responses of Land Surface Temperature to Long-Term Land Use/Cover Changes between a Coastal and Inland City: A Case of Freetown and Bo Town in Sierra Leone". Remote Sensing 10(1), 112. doi: 10.3390/rs10010112. Fulltext link

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