Seasonal and diurnal surface urban heat islands in China: an investigation of driving factors with three-dimensional urban morphological parameters

Shisong Cao, Yile Cai, Mingyi Du, Qihao Weng, Linlin Lu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Surface urban heat island (SUHI) can considerably influence the urban environment and the quality of life. It is vital to examine how underlying surface properties impact seasonal and diurnal SUHIs. However, the influence of three-dimensional (3D) urban morphological parameters (UMPs) on SUHIs has not been thoroughly studied under varying climatic settings. To fill this knowledge gap, the present study investigated seasonal and diurnal changes in SUHI intensities (ΔT) in 208 cities in China from 2014 to 2016 using moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface temperature products. In addition, the influence of potential factors in urban surface energy balance, including two-dimensional (2D) and 3D UMPs, socio-economic indices, urban greening, and surface albedo, on seasonal and diurnal ΔT were assessed under different climatic settings and with different city sizes using the method of Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR). Results show that negative summer daytime ΔT was observed in some cities under dry climates. Generally, in summer, the ΔT during daytime was higher than at nighttime. The 3D UMPs (i.e. building height and volume) yielded more decisive influences on ΔT than 2D UMP (i.e. building coverage). This is particularly true for the summer diurnal cycle and under dry climatic settings. Building height was found to be negatively correlated with surface temperatures, while building volume was positively correlated. Additionally, the 3D UMPs yielded more influences on winter ΔT than summer ΔT. The capability of vegetation to regulate ΔT was more potent in dry climates than in wet climates and in small cities than in large cities. Varying climates and city sizes can modify the significance of the 2D and 3D UMPs on the urban surface energy balance, suggesting that urban thermal mitigation should consider climate background and population size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1142
Number of pages22
JournalGIScience and Remote Sensing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • city size
  • climate background
  • diurnal temperature cycle
  • geographically weighted regression
  • seasonal temperature cycle
  • Surface urban heat island
  • three-dimensional urban morphological parameters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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