The footprint of urban heat island effect in China
Urban heat island (UHI) is one major anthropogenic modification to the Earth system that transcends its physical boundary. Using MODIS data from 2003 to 2012, we showed that the UHI effect decayed exponentially toward rural areas for majority of the 32 Chinese cities. We found an obvious urban/ rural temperature “cliff”, and estimated that the footprint of UHI effect (FP, including urban area) was 2.3 and 3.9 times of urban size for the day and night, respectively, with large spatiotemporal heterogeneities. We further revealed that ignoring the FP may underestimate the UHI intensity in most cases and even alter the direction of UHI estimates for few cities. Our results provide new insights to the characteristics of UHI effect and emphasize the necessity of considering city- and time-specific FP when assessing the urbanization effects on local climate.