A hierarchical analysis of the relationship between urban impervious surfaces and land surface temperatures: spatial scale dependence, temporal variations, and bioclimatic modulation

Qun Ma, Jianguo Wu, Chunyang He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations


Context: Understanding how urban impervious surfaces (UIS) affect land surface temperatures (LST) on different scales in space and time is important for urban ecology and sustainability. Objectives: We examined how spatial scales, seasonal and diurnal variations, and bioclimatic settings affected the UIS–LST relationship in mainland China. Methods: We took a hierarchical approach explicitly considering three scales: the ecoregion, urban cluster, and urban core. The UIS–LST relationship was quantified with Pearson correlation using multiple remote sensing datasets. Results: In general, UIS and LST were positively correlated in summer daytime/nighttime and winter nighttime, but negatively in winter daytime. The strength of correlation increased from broad to fine scales. The mean R2 of winter nights at the urban core scale (0.262) was 4.03 times as high as that at the ecoregion scale (0.065). The relationship showed large seasonal and diurnal variations: generally stronger in summer than in winter and stronger in nighttime than in daytime. At the urban core scale, the mean R2 of summer daytime (0.208) was 3.25 times as high as that of winter daytime (0.064), and the mean R2 of winter nighttime (0.262) was 4.10 times as high as that of winter daytime (0.064). Vegetation and climate substantially modified the relationship during summer daytime on the ecoregion scale. Conclusions: Our study provides new evidence that the UIS–LST relationship varies with spatial scales, diurnal/seasonal cycles, and bioclimatic context, with new insight into the cross-scale properties of the relationship. These findings have implications for mitigating urban heat island effects across scales in China and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalLandscape Ecology
StateAccepted/In press - Mar 14 2016



  • China
  • Land surface temperatures
  • Urban heat islands
  • Urban impervious surfaces
  • Urban landscape sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Geography, Planning and Development

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