The role of rapid urbanization in surface warming over eastern China

Xinyue Zhu, Guixing Chen, Weiming Sha, Toshiki Iwasaki, Weibiao Li, Zhiping Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Using satellite imaging of the Earth at night, we quantitatively assess the rapid growth of urban areas and investigate its impact on long-term surface warming at 214 medium and large cities over eastern China. Urban growth intensity is measured using the size of the area experiencing fast night-time light increase and the distance to temperature-observation sites. Surface warming, related closely to city size, also exhibits a strong association with urban growth. A rapid increase of surface temperature is observed mainly for cities undergoing rapid urbanization (RU). Such a relation is evident over Central, South, and Northwest China, but it is weak over Northeast China, implying regional variation of temperature responses to urban growth. Satellite-derived land-surface temperature analysis suggests that cities experiencing RU are more subject to the effects of urban heat island expansion, which explains the variations of warming rate among cities within the same region. These results underscore that surface warming induced by RU might be an important component of urban climate change in eastern China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8295-8308
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 17


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