Urban heat islands in China enhanced by haze pollution

Chang Cao, Xuhui Lee, Shoudong Liu, Natalie Schultz, Wei Xiao, Mi Zhang, Lei Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The urban heat island (UHI), the phenomenon of higher temperatures in urban land than the surrounding rural land, is commonly attributed to changes in biophysical properties of the land surface associated with urbanization. Here we provide evidence for a long-held hypothesis that the biogeochemical effect of urban aerosol or haze pollution is also a contributor to the UHI. Our results are based on satellite observations and urban climate model calculations. We find that a significant factor controlling the nighttime surface UHI across China is the urban-rural difference in the haze pollution level. The average haze contribution to the nighttime surface UHI is 0.7±0.3 K (mean±1 s.e.) for semi-arid cities, which is stronger than that in the humid climate due to a stronger longwave radiative forcing of coarser aerosols. Mitigation of haze pollution therefore provides a co-benefit of reducing heat stress on urban residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12509
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Aug 23 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Urban heat islands in China enhanced by haze pollution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this