Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 57, Issue 14, pp 1708–1715

Estimation of urbanization bias in observed surface temperature change in China from 1980 to 2009 using satellite land-use data

Open Access
Article Geography


Since the 1980s, China has undergone rapid urbanization. Meanwhile, the climate has been warming substantially. In this paper, the urbanization effect on observed temperatures from 1980 to 2009 in China is estimated, based on analysis of urban land use from satellite observation. Urban land-use expansion (ΔU) during 1980–2005 is applied as an urbanization index. According to these ΔU values, stations are divided into three categories: (C1) intense urbanization around the stations; (C2) moderate urbanization around the stations; and (C3) minimal urbanization around the stations. Most C1 stations are in municipalities or provincial capitals, while C2 stations tend to be in prefecture-level cities. C3 stations are mostly in counties. The urban heat island (UHI) effect can be estimated if the urban effect on C3 is negligible. The warming of C1 or C2 relative to that of C3 represents their urbanization effects, assuming that the same larger-scale natural warming has affected each category. For C1, the local urbanization effect is 0.258°C/10 a over 1980–2009, accounting for 41% of the total warming; the trend at C2 is 0.099°C/10 a, or 21%. For all China, the urbanization effect is 0.09°C/10a, accounting for 20% of the total national warming. Winter urban warming is greater than in summer. The assumption of negligible urbanization effect on C3 is debatable, and so the true urbanization effect may equal or slightly exceed estimates. Further, the ΔU index may have some uncertainties, for it is only one of the urbanization indices. However, it provides a new and direct estimation of environmental change, in contrast to indirect indices.


urbanization urban land-use change UHI effect 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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