Surface warming in global cities is substantially more rapid than in rural background areas

Zihan Liu, Wenfeng Zhan, Benjamin Bechtel, James Voogt, Jiameng Lai, Tirthankar Chakraborty, Zhi Hua Wang, Manchun Li, Fan Huang, Xuhui Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Warming trends in cities are influenced both by large-scale climate processes and by local-scale urbanization. However, little is known about how surface warming trends of global cities differ from those characterized by weather observations in the rural background. Here, through statistical analyses of satellite land surface temperatures (2002 to 2021), we find that the mean surface warming trend is 0.50 ± 0.20 K·decade−1 (mean ± one S.D.) in the urban core of 2000-plus city clusters worldwide, and is 29% greater than the trend for the rural background. On average, background climate change is the largest contributor explaining 0.30 ± 0.11 K·decade−1 of the urban surface warming. In city clusters in China and India, however, more than 0.23 K·decade−1 of the mean trend is attributed to urban expansion. We also find evidence of urban greening in European cities, which offsets 0.13 ± 0.034 K·decade−1 of background surface warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number219
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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