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PeerJ. 2019 Aug 2;7:e7424. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7424. eCollection 2019.

Spatiotemporal patterns of urban thermal environment and comfort across 180 cities in summer under China's rapid urbanization.

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Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun, China.
Key Research Institute of Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development & Collaborative Innovation Center on Yellow River Civilization of Henan Province, Henan University, Kaifeng, China.



China is considered as the largest and most rapidly urbanizing nation in the world. However, possible changes of urban thermal environment and comfort under the rapid urbanization in China still remain poorly understood at a national scale.


Based on the data collected from 180 cities in 1990, 2005, and 2015 in China, the spatiotemporal patterns of urban thermal environment and comfort in summer and their relationships with urbanization variables were investigated in this study.


Our results indicate that urban thermal environment has changed greatly during the 25 years. Furthermore, the changes of urban climate in different regions are inconsistent. The Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET) at most cities (81%) in China increased from 1990 to 2015, which suggested that urban thermal comfort in China was also deteriorating during the 25 years. However, while the PET of some cities in China began to decrease from 2005 to 2015, there were still 33% of cities that had positive trends,which mainly located in North region. Urbanization resulted in a significant influence on urban climate. Compared to southern cities, northern cities were more sensitive to urbanization impact. The most important contribution to increasing of PET for urbanization variables is gross domestic product, followed by urban population. The analysis results reveal changing patterns of urban thermal comfort in China during summer season. It can help urban government and managers improve urban thermal environment and comfort.


Physiological equivalent temperature (PET); Thermal comfort; Urban climate; Urbanization

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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