Increasing Heat Stress in Urban Areas of Eastern China: Acceleration by Urbanization

Ming Luo, Ngar Cheung Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


A combination of hot temperature and high humidity (high heat stress) has severe impacts on environment, society, and public health, especially in urban areas where the majority of the world's population lives. This study investigates the changes of heat stress in urban areas of eastern China and urbanization effects. Data for 242 urban areas and records from a dense network of nearly 2,000 stations are examined. All urban areas have experienced substantial increases in mean heat stress and the frequencies of extreme heat stress days and events during 1971–2014. The increases in human-perceived heat stress are even stronger than air temperature. Urban areas experience more intense heat stress than the surrounding rural areas. We estimate that urbanization accounts for nearly 30% of the increase in mean and extreme heat stress. Urbanization effects are more prominent in the major urban conglomerates such as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13,060-13,069
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • climate change
  • heat index
  • heat stress
  • long-term trend
  • urban heat island
  • urbanization effect


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