Natural Resource Management: Forestry, Agriculture and Biodiversity

Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect in Fresno, California

SatVu HotSat-1 imagery, Fresno, California – 31st July 2023 at 21:35 UTC (14:35 PDT). Local temperatures at the time of capture exceeded 38°C (100°F). The highlighted area represents the extent of the Fig Gardens residential area, showing a cooler temperature than the surroundings. Areas with limited vegetation, like the strip mall area to the East of Fig Gardens, show warmer temperatures than the surroundings.

On July 31st, 2023, SatVu’s satellite HOTSAT-1 captured thermal data within Fresno, California. The data showed a cool blue zone aligned with the neighbourhood of Fig Gardens. This area is known for its high density of mature trees, as seen in aerial data.

Fig Gardens, developed in 1910 north of Fresno on previously unused land covered with hardpan, was revealed to have sandy soil beneath. The developer planted fig, eucalyptus, cedar, oleander, and shade trees, then sold the land to new residents who built homes and created a community. In 1919, the remaining land was subdivided into residential lots to develop a suburban environment. Today, large mature trees are a defining feature of Fig Gardens and contribute to its community feel.

Fig Gardens is a desirable area to live in but has a high price tag. The median home price in Fig Gardens is $715,000 compared to $396,000 for the rest of Fresno. Additionally, there is a disparity between this area and the rest of Fresno due to past discriminatory policies.

The history of Fig Gardens and Fresno is fascinating. Thermal imagery from SatVu highlights the benefit of planned urban greening to reduce the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. UHI contributes to heat-related illnesses and deaths and impacts a city’s economy through increased strain on energy infrastructure and the liveability of its citizens. SatVu is developing data and insight products to enable city managers to understand, manage, and mitigate the heat risk in their community.