Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 165–174

Urban heat island effect on annual mean temperature during the last 50 years in China


  • Q. Li
    • National Meteorological Center, CMA
    • Jiangsu Province Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster and Environmental Variation
  • H. Zhang
    • National Meteorological Center, CMA
  • X. Liu
    • National Meteorological Center, CMA
  • J. Huang
    • Physical Institute, Peking University

DOI: 10.1007/s00704-004-0065-4

Cite this article as:
Li, Q., Zhang, H., Liu, X. et al. Theor Appl Climatol (2004) 79: 165. doi:10.1007/s00704-004-0065-4


Based on China’s fifth population survey (2000) data and homogenized annual mean surface air temperature data, the urban heat island (UHI) effect on the warming during the last 50 years in China was analyzed in this study. In most cities with population over 104, where there are national reference stations and principal stations, most of the temperature series are inevitably affected by the UHI effect. To detect the UHI effect, the annual mean surface air temperature (SAT) time series were firstly classified into 5 subregions by using Rotated Principal Components Analysis (RPCA) according to its high and low frequency climatic change features. Then the average UHI effect on each subregion’s regional annual mean STA was studied. Results indicate that the UHI effect on the annual mean temperatures includes three aspects: increase of the average values, decrease of variances and change of the climatic trends. The effect on the climatic trends is different from region to region. In the Yangtze River Valley and South China, the UHI effect enhances the warming trends by about 0.011 °C/decade. In the other areas, such as Northeast, North-China, and Northwest, UHI has little impact on the warming trends of the regional annual temperature; while in the Southwest of China, introducing UHI stations slows down the warming trend by −0.006 °C/decade. But no matter what subregion it is, the total warming/cooling of these effects is much smaller than the background change in regional temperature. The average UHI effect for the entire country, during the last 50 years is less than 0.06 °C, which agrees well with the IPCC (2001). This suggests that we cannot conclude that urbanization during the last 50 years has had much obvious effect on the observed warming in China.

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© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2004