Urban heat island impacts on plant phenology: intra-urban variability and response to land cover

Despite documented intra-urban heterogeneity in the urban heat island (UHI) effect, little is known about spatial or temporal variability in plant response to the UHI. Using an automated temperature sensor network in conjunction with Landsat-derived remotely sensed estimates of start/end of the growing season, we investigate the impacts of the UHI on plant phenology in the city of Madison WI (USA)for the 2012–2014 growing seasons. Median urban growing season length (GSL) estimated from temperature sensors is∼5 d longer than surrounding rural areas, and UHI impacts on GSL are relatively consistent from year-to-year. Parks within urban areas experience a subdued expression of GSL lengthening resulting from interactions between the UHI and a park cool island effect. 

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