The effect of urbanization gradients and forest types on microclimatic regulation by trees, in association with climate, tree sizes and species compositions in Harbin city, northeastern China

  • Wenjie WangEmail author
  • Bo Zhang
  • Wei Zhou
  • Hailiang Lv
  • Lu Xiao
  • Hongyuan Wang
  • Hongju Du
  • Xingyuan He


Rapid urbanization and climate change require stronger microclimatic regulation by urban trees, and maximizing their cooling, humidifying, and shading functions requires an exact understanding of the underlying mechanisms affected by climatic conditions and the forest characteristics. By measuring different aspects of microclimate regulation by urban trees in 165 plots in Harbin city and measuring climatic conditions, tree size, and compositional differences, we define changes in patterns along various urban-rural gradients (ring-road development and urban history) and for different forest types and decoupling the complex associations among them. We found that the horizontal cooling (1.7 °C to 4.0 °C) was larger than the vertical cooling (−1.71 °C to 0.33 °C) and soil cooling (0.28 °C to 2.17 °C); The humidifying effect (ΔRH) ranged from −0.34% to 7.30%, and total radiation intercepted (ΔE) ranged from 11.07 kLux to 45.95 kLux. We also found higher under-branch height, larger canopy, and higher percentage of Ulmaceae, but lower percentage of Salicaceae in more urbanized regions. The relative importance of tree compositions and size on microclimatic regulation was shown using redundancy analysis (RDA), and RDA variation partitioning showed that tree sizes explained 24.7% of the variations in the microclimate regulations, and tree composition and their interactions with climatic conditions explained 9.5% and 25.4% of the variations, respectively. Our findings reveal that maximizing microclimatic regulation by urban forests in northeastern China could possibly be achieved through specific-function-oriented afforestation and an increase conservation of large existing trees, and the data in this paper could favor policy decision of urban forest manager and local administration of urban green infrastructure.


Affiliated forest Climate differences Ecological welfare forest Landscape forest Ring road urban-rural gradient Roadside forest 



affiliated forest. Mainly found in schools


university and residential areas


roadside forest. Mainly along streets in urban regions


Landscape and relaxation forest. Mainly in parks and botanical gardens


Ecological and public welfare forest. Distributed mainly in urban-rural integration areas of farmland protection forest, and other protected coastal estuarine or water supply areas


outside radiation - under-canopy radiation

Shading (%)

ΔE/outside radiation × 100%

Horizontal cooling ΔT1

outside forest Tair - forest floor Tair

Vertical cooling ΔT2

canopy Tair - under canopy Tair

Soil cooling ΔT3

outside forest Tsoil - forest floor Tsoil

Humidifying effect ΔRH

forest floor RH - outside forest RH


redundancy analysis


diameter at breast height


solar radiation outside forest shade


air temperature outside forest shade


air relative humidity outside forest shade


soil temperature at 5 cm



This study was supported financially by the National Science Foundation of China (3167069; 41730641), Basic-research fund for Central Universities (2572017DG04), Longjiang Scholar fund from Northeast Forestry University (T201702).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenjie Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Bo Zhang
    • 2
  • Wei Zhou
    • 2
  • Hailiang Lv
    • 1
  • Lu Xiao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hongyuan Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hongju Du
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xingyuan He
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Northeast Institute of Geography and AgroecologyChangchunPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Forest Plant EcologyNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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