Temperature change and urbanisation in a multi-nucleated megacity: China's Pearl River Delta

Janet E. Nichol, Sin Yau Choi, Man Sing Wong, Sawaid Abbas

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates urbanisation and temperature indices, over four decades in a multi-nucleated megacity, China's Pearl River Delta (PRD). Daily mean minimum, maximum and mean temperatures (Tmin, Tmax and Tmean) have increased considerably above background warming rates. However, only weak to moderate relationships are observed between trends in local urban surface area surrounding climatic stations, and Tmin used as a proxy for UHI development. While 5 out of 21 stations with high increase in both Tmin and degree of urbanisation, showed moderate relationship (R = 0.51), another 8 stations with low urbanisation showed significant increase in Tmin. This suggests warming from factors other than local urban development on Tmin. Since PRD contains eight cities over 4 million population, and a semi-continuous urbanised area due to merging of urban centres, a regional heat island circulation, or heat dome model is invoked. The observed increase in Tmax above background warming rates for 14 stations, is more difficult to explain as Tmax is not generally affected by urbanisation. This is attributed to high surface energy flux in the afternoon, and anthropogenic energy use in dense urban districts. The regional heat dome circulation over PRD suggests local temperatures will increase further, even without further local developments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100592
JournalUrban Climate
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Climate warming
  • Daily minimum temperature
  • Pearl River Delta
  • Urban heat dome
  • Urban Heat Island
  • Urbanisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Atmospheric Science


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