Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2006.
Advisor: Professor Frederick N. Scatena and Professor C. Dana Tomlin

This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Oka, M. (2011). The Influence of Urban Street Characteristics on Pedestrian Heat Comfort Levels in Philadelphia. Transactions in GIS 15(1): 109-123, which has been published in final form at


This article describes relationships between selected physical characteristics of urban streets and pedestrian-level heat. It also identifies conditions that are particularly vulnerable to the summer heat. Field measurements of ambient temperatures 1 m above the ground were collected over sidewalks, green spaces, and parking lots in high density commercial and residential areas. Panel autoregression (PAR) analysis was then used to assess significant contributors, and prediction equations were developed. These explained over 90% of the total observed variation. The prediction equations were then used with a geographic information system (GIS) to create a cartographic map of hot and cool areas for a particular study site. The results indicate that planting trees can reduce ground ambient temperatures. Moreover, a cartographic map is effective tool for identifying heat vulnerable areas. This study offers a more comprehensive spatial scale analysis and most explicit prediction map than other studies to date.



Date Posted: 28 August 2006