Sky view factor analysis of street canyons and its implications for daytime intra-urban air temperature differentials in high-rise, high-density urban areas of Hong Kong: a GIS-based simulation approach



Hong Kong is a high-density sub-tropical city with 7 million people living in an urban area of just over 260 km2. Tall and closely packed buildings are the common urban morphology. How the urban geometry influences the microclimate in summer daytime is a primary planning concern. The sky view factor (SVF) has been commonly used to indicate the impact of urban geometry on air temperature differences in cities. However, only limited discussions in this aspect have been addressed for daytime course in high-rise and high-density urban environment such as Hong Kong. This paper firstly provides a comprehensive review of SVF analysis in urban climatology studies and then presents a simulation approach to investigate the role of SVF in determining summer daytime intra-urban air temperature differences in urban Hong Kong. An ArcGIS-embedded computer program is developed for calculating continuous SVF values for an entire urban environment and an SVF map is generated. The result is evaluated against meteorological data observed in field measurements. The regression analysis shows that the spatial average of SVF values has a close negative relationship with daytime intra-urban temperature differences. The study indicates that SVF is a significant factor for understanding the microthermal climate in Hong Kong's street canyons. The paper further raises discussions on the application of SVF analysis to urban planning. The study demonstrates that the SVF analysis is a useful and effective tool for planners and urban climatologists conducting studies on high-rise and high-density sub-tropical cities. The understanding can provide support for the development of planning standards and good practice. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society