The role of city size and urban form in the surface urban heat island

Urban climate is determined by a variety of factors, whose knowledge can help to attenuate heat stress in the context of ongoing urbanization and climate change. We study the influence of city size and urban form on the Urban Heat Island (UHI) phenomenon in Europe and find a complex interplay between UHI intensity and city size, fractality, and anisometry. Due to correlations among these urban factors, interactions in the multi-linear regression need to be taken into account. We find that among the largest 5,000 cities, the UHI intensity increases with the logarithm of the city size and with the fractal dimension, but decreases with the logarithm of the anisometry. Typically, the size has the strongest influence, followed by the compactness, and the smallest is the influence of the degree to which the cities stretch. Accordingly, from the point of view of UHI alleviation, small, disperse, and stretched cities are preferable. However, such recommendations need to be balanced against e.g. positive agglomeration effects of large cities. Therefore, trade-offs must be made regarding local and global aims.


The role of city size and urban form in the surface urban heat island
Bin Zhou, Diego Rybski & Jürgen P. Kropp
Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 4791 (2017)