Something Detroit has in abundance – UHI


Detroit gets a lot of negative press these days, mainly because it has become a poster child for badly managed cities and decline, but it does seem to have UHI going for it and is no stranger to downtown heat waves.

Bruce Hall writes in with this interesting comparison graph he put together, which suggests that Detroit has a higher average annual temperature due to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. It seems you can experience the temperature increase claimed to be from CO2 globally (about 1.4°F) by moving from Ann Arbor to Detroit, though I doubt many people would choose to do so.

If you did the opposite, and moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor (something I’ll bet a lot of people have already done), would that qualify you to be a climate refugee?

Click image to enlarge

Annual Temperature Comparisons for Ann Arbor, Flint, Detroit, Toledo


(which appears to be using the GHCN dataset.)

You’d expect Detroit to be warmer than Flint, simply by latitude effect, and about the same as Ann Arbor, but cooler than Toledo. Detroit is warmer than all of them.

Despite this, Detroit still has not surpassed the “Grandaddy of heat waves” in July 1936

I decided to test Hall’s method, just to make sure it isn’t a fluke, so I chose a city that isn’t in decline, Atlanta, GA and some nearby smaller cities and plotted a similar map:

Annual Temperature Comparisons for Atlanta nearby cities

The result is essentially the same as for Detroit.

And, it works just as well for Phoenix:

Annual Temperature Comparisons for Phoenix nearby cities

What I found most interesting was that Phoenix has an average annual temperature (72.8°F) higher than that of Casa Grande (69.5°F), by 3.3°F. Yet, the average max temperature for Phoenix (84.5°F) is lower than that of Casa Grande (87.4°F) by almost the same amount, 2.9°F. That’s quite an achievement since the thermometer at Casa Grande National Monument is mostly rural, but sited near to a building and parking lot.


Casa Grande is often listed as the hottest places in the nation on the daily weather summary by NOAA. According to the web page

The area has a low elevation and hence is very hot – often over 110°F for several months in the summer. During spring, this part of Arizona is sometimes the hottest place in the whole USA, and even in winter, daytime temperatures can reach 80°F.


The UHI to population relationship has been defined by Dr. Roy Spencer:


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Allen Hall
August 3, 2014 9:08 am

Mr. Watts- trying to reach John Coleman about climate change scam. The answer to it is being held from us- the people’s of the world by a selected group- NWO gang. I have a friend, CIA, that
has told me all about the scam. ” answer is zero point energy” been held from us for 50 years so oil can be sold.
contact me please.
REPLY: Well whatever your friend told you, it isn’t just wrong, it’s ridiculous too. There’s no practical way to harness it.

August 3, 2014 9:13 am

It would be interesting to see how temperature adjustments work around these stations. Does the city mean the others get adjusted up and vice versa?
Someone have been finding some very odd results in Australia’s BOM adjustments ( reported at Jo Nova’s ).

August 3, 2014 9:14 am

It would be interesting to see how temperature adjustments work around these stations. Does the city mean the others get adjusted up and vice versa?
Someone have been finding some very odd results in Australia’s BOM adjustments ( reported at Jo Nova’s ).

Ann Banisher
August 3, 2014 9:16 am

I’m sure the typical response of the residents of those cities would be like the Geico commercial “Everybody knows that”. Look at the 10 day forecast of those cities and you see the difference is the higher lows.
Having lived in Phoenix, there should be no surprise why the max is lower but the average is higher. The concrete and asphalt hold in the heat during the day and release it at night.
All the irrigation and landscaping adds humidity that tamps the high down but also raises the low – just like along the coast of CA…..or it could be there is more CO2 in Phoenix.

Ron Tuohimaa
August 3, 2014 9:27 am

I reside in Maricopa, AZ in the winter. The Phoenix temperatures as reported, particularly in the mornings, are always higher, often significantly so. Maricopa and Phoenix have almost identical elevations. The greater variance for Wickenburg however can be attributed to its elevation – 1000’ higher than Phoenix.
It would be interesting to know where the weather station is in Apache Junction since it’s annual temperature is recorded slightly higher than Maricopa, yet it’s elevation is 700’ higher. I suspect there may be an irregularity there as well.

August 3, 2014 9:43 am

The city of Detroit as in The City of Detroit – the corporation. The corporation of the city of Detroit is poorly managed (maybe) but the geographical area known as Detroit will be just fine, provided that the corporation stays out of everybody’s business……. al the while in the hopes that the people of that area keep depending on them for services.
I think we were discussing urban heat islands?

August 3, 2014 9:46 am

When are we going to talk about this?
I’ll keep putting out there until Joe.B and gang get the message.

August 3, 2014 9:59 am

7 posts already and still no one calling the UHI effect a myth; has Mosher overslept?

August 3, 2014 10:10 am

Doc Marten:
This is Sunday morning.

Dave VanArsdale
August 3, 2014 10:10 am

More “heat” just arrived in Motown last week when the Tigers signed a third Cy Young award winning pitcher to their winning roster!

August 3, 2014 10:11 am

Correction: Doc Martyn

August 3, 2014 10:13 am

Has anyone checked with Google or other mapping source to see if their aerial surveys and street imagery track temperature as well as WiFi and other privacy violations? Seems like it would be a useful resource.

Björn from Sweden
August 3, 2014 10:21 am

Dont climate scientists have road thermometers in their cars? They should know from reading them in the winter how temperature climbs several degrees Celsius when approaching villages from rural areas in the winter.

John Coleman
August 3, 2014 10:23 am

Attention Allen Hall: Try to break free from conspiracy theories. There is no giant Government or Secret Society conspiracy controlling the masses. The internet spreads and grows these myths but serious study finds them all to be totally void of substance. The global warming bad science is not a conspiracy, but a case of science being twisted by a political agenda.
As for the Detroit heat island, it is somewhat modified by the lake effect. Just like Chicago (where I predicted the weather for 20 years) which is cooler near the lake by day and warmer near the lake at night, Detroit temperature swings are somewhat modified by the Lake Effect. The weather systems as they pass through the Great Lake region are significantly modified by the Lake effects.

August 3, 2014 10:30 am

I am always amused that so many people claim that the oil companies or the government are holding cheap energy sources from us.
It is surprising that they fail to realize that the numerous civilized countries who have competent engineers and scientists such as Japan, China, and India, and much of Europe would allow the US and other Oil companies to deprive them of a viable,cheap energy source.
How many times have I heard that people believe that the oil companies have bought up all the patents for carburetors and other devices that would allow the car to get 100 or more MPG.
Unfortunately we still have politicians who claim we can currently run our economy on wind, solar, food crops or cellulosic fuels.
Unfortunately this is where the fraud is successfully being committed on the public.

Bloke down the pub
August 3, 2014 10:46 am

And while the recorded, uhi affected temperatures may be a good representation of reality, the concern is always going to be that their use to infill missing data will smear that extra heat all over the temperature record.

sleepingbear dunes
August 3, 2014 11:33 am

There should be no question about UH I effect. I have tested it going through towns from rural & back again. Invariably it shows up in minutes. Conversely, this weekend went from small town to lake & in 2 minutes & 2 miles temperature dropped by 5 degrees.

August 3, 2014 11:42 am

So, the global warming alarmist are correct. Global warming will destroy our economy. Cold Ann Arbor is one of the most liveable cities in America. Warm Detroit is a disaster.

August 3, 2014 11:43 am

I should have put (sarc) on my comment above.

August 3, 2014 1:04 pm

A few days ago CNN ran a piece on Gaza and to give people perspective they pointed out that the Gaza Strip is the size of of Detroit with no water, no jobs, a wrecked infrastructure, corruption, bad government, etc. … it wasn’t clear where the similarities ended 🙂

Richard M
August 3, 2014 1:17 pm

I suspect Phoenix has a higher humidity than does Casa Grande. That may be the reason for the difference in the highs.

August 3, 2014 1:29 pm

For sites without UHI bias, the pristene sited USCRN, no adjustments needed, temperature is flat for the US for ten years.

August 3, 2014 1:39 pm

He’s out at the Airport where it is cooler…. No, honest! Hansen and the NOAA / NASA gang all tell me that acres of tarmac in the sun with tons of kerosene / minute being burned with all trees chopped down is a cooler more rural like place than the city… so they adjust out “UHI” via warming the thermometers in recent times when they moved from “cities” to the “cooler airports”.
I’d like to put a /sarc tag on that, but, unfortunately, they really do think airports are cooler…

August 3, 2014 2:47 pm

Dave Van arsdale…..Motown as in Modesto Ca. I live in Oakdale and we need to talk….
Fellow dutchy

August 3, 2014 3:02 pm

Nothing is clearer to the average person than the fact that the centres of towns and cities are several degrees warmer than small nearby settlements. This is a fact that terrifies the Catastrophic Warmistas as the relentless growth of population and urbanisation is equally clearly one of the major forces driving the increase of temperature over the last 100+ years, around the World. In an effort to deflect detection, the Warmistas have waved their hands in the direction of UHI accompanied by the words, “Nothing to see here”. More attention should be given to this major political weakness in the Warmista Mantra.

george e. smith
August 3, 2014 4:33 pm

So much is written about Urban Heat Islands; UHIs.
I’ve never seen any discussion about whether UHIs are good or bad.
Personally I think they are a good thing.
After all, very little of the earth’s cooling LWIR radiation, is emitted from cold places like Vostok Station, and certainly not at midwinter midnight.
Meanwhile, the earth’s hottest tropical deserts, are doing a bang up job, radiating like crazy, all through the heat of the day. Those surfaces emit well in excess of ten times the radiant power density, of the polar cold spots.
So UHIs too, radiate profusely during the day, at LWIR frequencies, which are blue shifted from the 10.1 micron wavelength of the 288 K mean global Temperature.
I have tested the Temperatures of previously sizzling black top pavements at sundown (in Si Valley CA), and by the time the sun has set, they are quite cold to the touch.
The problem arises, when someone puts a thermometer at a UHI location, and then applies that observed Temperature, to places that are 1200 Km away from there.
If GW is bad for us, then UHIs are our friend.
My car ICE fossil fuelled, cools by means of a built in UHI, called the “radiator.”

August 3, 2014 4:40 pm

John Coleman says:
As for the Detroit heat island, it is somewhat modified by the lake effect. Just like Chicago (where I predicted the weather for 20 years) which is cooler near the lake by day and warmer near the lake at night, Detroit temperature swings are somewhat modified by the Lake Effect. The weather systems as they pass through the Great Lake region are significantly modified by the Lake effects.

Factoring in lake effect, Toledo should be the one comparable with Detroit since Toledo’s readings should also be modified by lake effect. However, despite being farther south, Toledo’s cooler than Detroit.

August 3, 2014 5:13 pm

I’m betting some of the UHI effect could be negated by building a bridge.
It’s a pretty sad day when Canada has to pay for infrastructure in Obama’s America.

August 3, 2014 5:18 pm

Google for the paywalled WSJ article.
Funding for Part of Detroit-Windsor Bridge Project Remains in Doubt

Allen Hall
August 3, 2014 6:13 pm

You say that in reply #1 I sent. All I know is the Dr. steve Greer believe this has been done and my friend is a scientist with several PhD’s He worked for Black ops for many years. Just because
this article says this doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done. He has told me “we ( most people) live in a total fantasy world- nothing is as it is. said we are 100-150 years ahead in technology than anyone can even imagine. Just because we can’t see it or know of it- doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done. He told me we not only travel in space and have for 50 years- but near daily leave the solar system. Aliens- yes they are real and he worked with them in reverse engineering while with black ops. Said NASA is space science for stupid people.
Hell- look how many people believe in global man-made warming???

August 3, 2014 6:55 pm

Allen Hall says:
August 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm
Do I need to explain why the American flag does not flap in the Lunar wind?

August 3, 2014 7:46 pm

Official Detroit temperature is from Metro Airport but temperature is also recorded at Detroit City Airport as far as I know. And most of the time the temps at Detroit City Airport are slightly higher unless there is a breeze off from Lake St. Clair that cools Detroit City Airport.

August 3, 2014 8:24 pm

Detroit Metro would be DTW Detroit/Windsor.

August 3, 2014 8:34 pm

Back in 1936 Detroit temperatures were recorded in the City and likely at Detroit City Airport but don’t know what year the change was made to Metro.
So temperature records would be different as Metro Airport is in a more rural area west of Detroit.
Toledo often get cooling breezes off from Lake Erie so likely the reason average temps are lower than Detroit or Toledo is cooler than Detroit.

Eugene WR Gallun
August 3, 2014 11:30 pm

Mile 1:04 pm
Laughing out loud. Good one.
Eugene WR Gallun

August 4, 2014 2:49 am

GISS allow 0.4C for UHI at Detroit, when comparing 1930 with 2013.

August 4, 2014 4:25 am

“[Anthony:] REPLY: Well whatever your friend told you, it isn’t just wrong, it’s ridiculous too. There’s no practical way to harness it.

THANKS Anthony! The part about stochastic electrodynamics is VERY interesting!

James at 48
August 4, 2014 10:35 am

Have done quite a bit of business in the Detroit area and traveled there a lot. It is well known that the suburbs get much more snow cover than in the city. Even the inner ring suburbs are affected strongly by UHI.

Michael 2
August 4, 2014 11:53 am

Allen Hall says: “Aliens- yes they are real…”
Arriving daily from Tijuana!

John F. Hultquist
August 4, 2014 1:12 pm

Detroit – no lights.
Toledo – no water.
Lake effects, UHI, sensor movements, sensor changes – no reliable temperature record.
With Allen Hall and his CIA friend, I’m getting echos of Evelyn “Angel” Martin, a character in The Rockford Files, played by Stuart Margolin. Entertaining.
Allen, – don’t use aluminum pots and pans!

August 4, 2014 3:53 pm

Back in 1930 the Detroit area had no sprawling suburban areas. A large city by area covered but was also a rather compact city.
Suburban sprawl there came after WW 2.
The early temperature records were right in downtown Detroit which was a small city up to about WW 1 and then to Detroit City Airport on the east side and then to Metro Airport west of the city which was also the site of the old Wayne County Airport.
No consistent temperature records due to moving the recording/reporting sites?

August 4, 2014 5:27 pm

It’s virtually impossible to find a major city which doesn’t exhibit higher temperatures on average than the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, the great majority of met stations around the globe are located somewhere within an UHI, with no nearby stations in the countryside to provide a suitable benchmark. In more fortunate cases, the discrepancy shows the UHI developing gradually over the course of the 20th century with increasing urban growth; i.e., a strong difference in century-long trend. What often obscures this is the movement of the urban station from near the city center to a newly built airport in the countryside and the development of suburbs. These factors make the unequivocal identification of UHI problematical in many cases.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 4, 2014 8:11 pm

[noted, no issues – Anthony]

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