Earth Science Informatics

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 447–464 | Cite as

Monitoring spatial pattern of land surface thermal characteristics and urban growth: A case study of King Williams using remote sensing and GIS

  • Yanga A. WillieEmail author
  • Rajendran Pillay
  • L. Zhou
  • Israel R. OrimoloyeEmail author
Research Article


The world is currently experiencing unprecedented urban growth, industrialization, and the perceived higher standard of living that is often associated with access to better infrastructure. “Surface Heat Island (SHI) is a phenomenon where urban areas experience higher surface temperatures compared to the surrounding rural areas. The presence of the SHI in urban areas in most cases has a negative impact not only on city dwellers, but also on the environment and the economy. This study aimed at evaluating SHI in King Williams Town by studying the relationship between land surface temperatures, land cover and land cover indices. The derived indices are the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Normalized Difference Built-up Index (NDBI), these indices were selected because they are representative of the land surface features.” This study was conducted for the King Williams Town (KWT) study area between the years 1995 and 2018, the land surface temperature was derived from Landsat ETM + high thermal band data. The findings from this study provided an idea on the correlation between satellite derived land surface temperature and the land modification, which occurred during the urbanization of King Williams Town during 23-year period between 1995 and 2018. The built-up land category proved to be the most influential or significant in the development of high land surface temperature levels, while vegetation had an opposite effect as a series of data sets illustrated that vegetated areas had a cooling effect on the surface. Water bodies in the study area had insignificant effect on the surface temperature levels while the grass lands were not as cooling as the vegetation but did provide for a cooling environment on the study area.


Urbanization Surface heat islands Urban heat island LST NDVI NDBI 



Our sincere appreciation goes to “the University of Fort Hare, South Africa for creating an enabling environment for research and United State Geological Survey for providing satellite imageries”.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

No competing interests.

Ethical statement

Not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental ScienceUniversity of Fort HareAliceSouth Africa
  2. 2.Risk and Vulnerability Science CentreUniversity of Fort HareAliceSouth Africa
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesUniversity of the Free State, P.O. Box 339Bloemfontein 9300South Africa

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