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Assessment of urban effect on observed warming trends during 1955–2012 over China: a case of 45 cities


This study aims at qualifying the contribution of the urban effect to the total warming recorded by 45 urban or suburban stations in China where rapid and extensive urbanization over the last few decades occurred. Partly due to differences in urbanization and stations’ geographic location, the total warming trends for 1955–2012 vary from of −0.10 to 0.49 °C and −0.03 to 0.64 °C per decade for the annual averaged daily mean and daily minimum temperature, respectively. A principal component analysis of seven factors on the siting and geographical coordinates of the meteorological stations shows three dominant factors (urban size, relative position of meteorological station to city center and geographic location of station) accounting for 87.1 % of the total explained variance. An index quantifying the impact of the first two dominating factors of the urban effect is proposed considering also the dominating wind direction. The positive correlation between the temperature trends and the index is significant (P < 0.05), indicating that urbanization has significantly influenced the warming trends at these stations. The average contribution of the urbanization for all the stations to the total mean temperature trend is estimated to be 19 %.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 4



Urban area: Built-up land area, in km2


Direction: Direction of meteorological station relative to city center, 16 azimuth


Distance: the distance from meteorological station to city center, in km


Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, unitless


Operational Linescan System


Principal component


Principal Component Analysis


Population: non-agricultural population, in million


Radius: the radius of city shape simplified as circle, in km


Distance coefficient: the ratio of Dis and R, unitless

Tmax :

Annual mean daily maximum temperature, in °C

Tmean :

Annual mean daily temperature, in °C

Tmin :

Annual mean daily minimum temperature, in °C


Urban Heat Island


Urban impact indicator: the degree of the urbanization impact on the recorded surface temperature, in %


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The research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [41171420], the Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences [KZZD-EW-04] and the West Light Foundation of The Chinese Academy of Sciences [2013-165-04].

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Correspondence to Fei Wang.

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Jin, K., Wang, F., Chen, D. et al. Assessment of urban effect on observed warming trends during 1955–2012 over China: a case of 45 cities. Climatic Change 132, 631–643 (2015).

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  • Meteorological Station
  • City Center
  • Warming Trend
  • Rural Station
  • Urban Effect