The relationship between urban form and air pollution depends on seasonality and city size

Yupeng Liu, Jianguo Wu, Deyong Yu, Qun Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Understanding how urban form is related to air pollution is important to urban planning and sustainability, but the urban form-air pollution relationship is currently muddled by inconsistent findings. In this study, we investigated how the compositional and configurational attributes of urban form were related to different air pollution measures (PM2.5, API, and exceedance) in 83 Chinese cities, with explicit consideration of city size and seasonality. Ten landscape metrics were selected to quantify urban form attributes, and Spearman’s correlation was used to quantify the urban form-air pollution relationship. Our results show that the urban form and air pollution relationship was dominated by city size and moderated by seasonality. Specifically, urban air pollution levels increased consistently and substantially from small to medium, large, and megacities. The urban form-air pollution relationship depended greatly on seasonality and monsoons. That is, the relationship was more pronounced in spring and summer than fall and winter, as well as in cities affected by monsoons. Urban air pollution was correlated more strongly with landscape composition metrics than landscape configuration metrics which seemed to affect only PM2.5 concentrations. Our study suggests that, to understand how air pollution levels are related to urban form, city size and seasonality must be explicitly considered (or controlled). Also, in order to mitigate urban air pollution problems, regional urban planning is needed to curb the spatial extent of built-up areas, reduce the degree of urban fragmentation, and increase urban compactness and contiguity, especially for large and megacities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15554-15567
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Air Pollution Index
  • Built-up area
  • Exceedance
  • PM
  • Urban morphology
  • Urban sprawl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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