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In due course many more satellite and aerial images of other parts of the world will be shown on this page, as Thermalcities becomes less focused on London. Your contributions would be most welcome. Please see the About page for more details.

Adapted from material kindly submitted by the The British National Space Centre on behalf of the 
Science and Technology Facilities Council

London and many other English cities can be seen as bright thermal `footprints' in this night-time image of England, France and the English Channel. In the false-colour representation used here, temperature increases through blue and yellow to orange over a temperature range of 278-288K (= 5 to 15 degrees Celcius).

London Airport reservoirs appear as orange hot spots as they remain hotter than the surrounding land that has cooled quicker since the sun has gone down; the water bodies have a higher thermal inertia than the land due to the higher specific heat capacity.

The image was from captured by the European Space Agency's (ESA) ERS-1 satellite at an altitude of around 777 km. (This is a 12 micron night-time image acquired on 7th September 1991; the area covered is 512 x 512 square km.)

More details on ESA's Observing the Earth program can be found here.

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These side-by-side heat maps, produced from data measured by AATSR's thermal channels, highlight the sharp increases in UK land temperatures. The map on the left was acquired on 15 July 2006 and shows cooler temperatures, while the map on the right shows warmer temperatures on 18 July 2006. The scale ranges from yellow to red, with red indicating higher temperatures. 

Source for image and text = European Space Agency


Adapted from material kindly submitted and owned by 
Horton Levi Ltd and Hotmapping Limited
In 2000 Horton Levi conducted a series of over-flights of London with a thermal imaging camera and took over 600 pictures to compile a composite thermal image of the city.

The full potential of the information that was captured is still in the process of being realized. More about this is presented on the practical applications web page. Presented below are a few extracts from some of the many original thermal images captured.


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Houses of Parliament


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St Paul's Cathedral


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Trafalgar Square
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Lewisham Hospital


The City, St Paul's, Canary Wharf & The Thames, from Centre-Point Tower, by Ray Lowe

The owners of Centre Point were kind enough to allow access to their top floor, so we could experiment and try and get a few interesting aerial shots with the borrowed thermal camera.

Although it was a fairly hazy and very windy December 28th some interesting thermal shots were captured, in that they help convey the message about energy efficiency and insulation by showing the hot and cold spots of some of London's roofscape. Some thumbnails (remember to hit the back button to get back to this web page if you want to see the larger originals) are presented below. 

As an experiment however, this revealed the limitations of using such a camera as a potential artistic tool, as one might use an ordinary camera. The thermacam has a fixed field of view and aperture. Although it has an amazing ability to reveal scenes in their thermal perspective, with the thermal camera used, this is limited to a fixed field of view at 40 degrees of horizontal arc, a fixed resolution of 640x480 pixels and a fixed menu of alternative 'false-colour' spectrums to present the heat images captured.

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'Thermograph' of City of London and Thames
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The British Museum


Thermacam at the top of Centre Point Tower
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Hyde Park Tower, with Hyde Park and its cold, blue lakes, seen beyond.
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Oxford Street - on one of the busiest shopping days of the year
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Bedford Square, London. Note the hot ducting on some of the rooftops.

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Thames Bridges to the East
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Millennium Wheel and Thames

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Big Ben and the Thames to the West
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And finally .. 

Here is an intriguing thermal image of BT Tower. Why does it look the way that it does? Part of the reason is that the tower is cylindrical. It was also a very windy, cold and hazy day. For the rest of the explanation, please feel free to study the 'Thermal Imaging Primer' on the 'About The Technology' page.



Copyright for all images and text resides with Steve Lowe/ Thermalcities, except where otherwise stated.


 Copyright 2008. All rights reserved