Potential Impacts of Urban Sprawl on the Thermal Environment in the Nanjing Metropolitan Area Based on the SLEUTH and WRF Models

  • Fanhua KongEmail author
  • Haiwei Yin
  • Fei Jiang
  • Jiayu Chen


The urban heat island (UHI) effect threatens the livability and sustainability in many cities. In this study, taking the Nanjing metropolitan area as the study area, we first simulated and predicted urban growth by 2040 under three ecological security scenarios (i.e., low, moderate, and high) by using the Slope, Land use, Exclusion, Urban extent, Transportation, and Hillshade (SLEUTH) model. Then, we investigated the impacts of future urbanization on the urban thermal environment by using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model under the future urban growth scenarios. Lastly, we analyzed the thermal environment characteristics corresponding to the changes in land use and urban sprawl. The results indicate that in 2040, the urban built-up land area would increase while the ecological protection grade would decrease. This means that urban sprawl would obviously affect the thermal environment and the urban heat island would intensify. The results also show that from the present to the three future scenarios (S1, S2, and S3), the areal extent of Zone 5 (pixels with air temperature >34.8 °C) would increase from 697.22 to 856.19 km2, 1236.08 km2, and 1434.78 km2, respectively, which would lead to prominent diurnal variation in the UHI intensity with higher values during nighttime. These results should be helpful for urban planners and managers to better understand urban growth impacts upon the thermal environment in the future and the corresponding measures need to be taken to ensure a livable and sustainable city.


Urban sprawl Thermal environment SLEUTH model WRF model Nanjing metropolitan area 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fanhua Kong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Haiwei Yin
    • 2
  • Fei Jiang
    • 1
  • Jiayu Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.International Institute for Earth System Science (ESSI), Nanjing UniversityNanjiangChina
  2. 2.Department of Urban Planning and DesignNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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