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Publication Date
5 November 2021

Enhanced surface urban heat islands due to divergent urban-rural greening trends



Satellite observations show that the surface urban heat island intensity (SUHII) has been increasing over the last two decades. This is often accompanied by an increased urban-rural contrast of vegetation greenness. However, the contribution of uneven vegetation trends in urban and rural areas to the trend of SUHII is unclear, due to the confounding effects of climate change and changes in man-made amenities and anthropogenic heat sources. Here we use a data-model fusion approach to quantify such contributions during the peak growing season. We show that the LAIdif (the urban-rural difference of leaf area index) is increasing (P<0.05) in 189 of the selected 228 global megacities. The increasing trend of LAIdif from 2000 to 2019 accounts for about one-quarter of the trend in satellite34 derived SUHII, and the impact is particularly evident in places with rapid urbanization and rural cropland intensification. The marginal sensitivity of SUHII to LAIdif is the strongest in hot-humid megacities surrounded by croplands and in hot-dry megacities surrounded by mixed woody and herbaceous vegetation. Our study highlights the role of long-term vegetation trends in modulating the trends of urban-rural temperature differences.

Chen, Chi, Dan Li, and Trevor F Keenan. 2021. “Enhanced Surface Urban Heat Islands Due To Divergent Urban-Rural Greening Trends”. Environmental Research Letters. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/ac36f8.
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