Frontiers of Earth Science

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 290–302 | Cite as

The relationships between urban-rural temperature difference and vegetation in eight cities of the Great Plains

  • Yaoping Cui
  • Xiangming XiaoEmail author
  • Russell B. Doughty
  • Yaochen Qin
  • Sujie Liu
  • Nan Li
  • Guosong Zhao
  • Jinwei DongEmail author
Research Article


Interpreting the relationship between urban heat island (UHI) and urban vegetation is a basis for understanding the impacts of underlying surfaces on UHI. The calculation of UHI intensity (UHII) requires observations from paired stations in both urban and rural areas. Due to the limited number of paired meteorological stations, many studies have used remotely sensed land surface temperature, but these time-series land surface temperature data are often heavily affected by cloud cover and other factors. These factors, together with the algorithm for inversion of land surface temperature, lead to accuracy problems in detecting the UHII, especially in cities with weak UHII. Based on meteorological observations from the Oklahoma Mesonet, a world-class network, we quantified the UHII and trends in eight cities of the Great Plains, USA, where data from at least one pair of urban and rural meteorological stations were available. We examined the changes and variability in urban temperature, UHII, vegetation condition (as measured by enhanced vegetation index, EVI), and evapotranspiration (ET). We found that both UHI and urban cold islands (UCI) occurred among the eight cities during 2000–2014 (as measured by impervious surface area). Unlike what is generally considered, UHII in only three cities significantly decreased as EVI and ET increased (p<0.1), indicating that the UHI or UCI cannot be completely explained simply from the perspective of the underlying surface. Increased vegetative cover (signaled by EVI) can increase ET, and thereby effectively mitigate the UHI. Each study station clearly showed that the underlying surface or vegetation affects urban-rural temperature, and that these factors should be considered during analysis of the UHI effect over time.


urbanization evapotranspiration urban cold island background climate air temperature 


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We thank Oklahoma Mesonet, which is designed and implemented by scientists at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and at Oklahoma State University (OSU), for providing the meteorological data for the entire state of Oklahoma.We thank Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) consortium for providing the percent developed imperviousness data layer. We thank NASA EOSDIS LP DAAC and the Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group for providing the MODIS EVI and ET datasets. This study is supported in part by research grants from the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA19040301), the National Science Foundation EPSCoR program of American (IIA-1301789), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41671425 and 41401504), HENU-CPGIS Collaborative Fund (JOF201701), the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (QYZDB-SSW-DQC005), and the “Thousand Youth Talents Plan.”


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaoping Cui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiangming Xiao
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Russell B. Doughty
    • 2
  • Yaochen Qin
    • 1
  • Sujie Liu
    • 1
  • Nan Li
    • 1
  • Guosong Zhao
    • 4
  • Jinwei Dong
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for the Middle and Lower Yellow River RegionsHenan UniversityKaifengChina
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, Center for Spatial AnalysisUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  3. 3.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity ScienceFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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