Unveiling the Dynamics of Thermal Characteristics Related to LULC Changes via ANN

Sensors (Basel). 2023 Aug 7;23(15):7013. doi: 10.3390/s23157013.


Continuous and unplanned urbanization, combined with negative alterations in land use land cover (LULC), leads to a deterioration of the urban thermal environment and results in various adverse ecological effects. The changes in LULC and thermal characteristics have significant implications for the economy, climate patterns, and environmental sustainability. This study focuses on the Province of Naples in Italy, examining LULC changes and the Urban Thermal Field Variance Index (UTFVI) from 1990 to 2022, predicting their distributions for 2030. The main objectives of this research are the investigation of the future seasonal thermal characteristics of the study area by characterizing land surface temperature (LST) through the UTFVI and analyzing LULC dynamics along with their correlation. To achieve this, Landsat 4-5 Thematic Mapper (TM) and Landsat 9 Operational Land Imager (OLI) imagery were utilized. LULC classification was performed using a supervised satellite image classification system, and the predictions were carried out using the cellular automata-artificial neural network (CA-ANN) algorithm. LST was calculated using the radiative transfer equation (RTE), and the same CA-ANN algorithm was employed to predict UTFVI for 2030. To investigate the multi-temporal correlation between LULC and UTFVI, a cross-tabulation technique was employed. The study's findings indicate that between 2022 and 2030, there will be a 9.4% increase in built-up and bare-land areas at the expense of the vegetation class. The strongest UTFVI zone during summer is predicted to remain stable from 2022 to 2030, while winter UTFVI shows substantial fluctuations with a 4.62% decrease in the none UTFVI zone and a corresponding increase in the strongest UTFVI zone for the same period. The results of this study reveal a concerning trend of outward expansion in the built-up area of the Province of Naples, with central northern regions experiencing the highest growth rate, predominantly at the expense of vegetation cover. These predictions emphasize the urgent need for proactive measures to preserve and protect the diminishing vegetation cover, maintaining ecological balance, combating the urban heat island effect, and safeguarding biodiversity in the province.

Keywords: Province of Naples; Urban Thermal Field Variance Index (UTFVI); prediction; temporal analysis; thermal discomfort.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.