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Frontiers of Earth Science

Front. Earth Sci.    2019, Vol. 13 Issue (2) : 290-302
The relationships between urban-rural temperature difference and vegetation in eight cities of the Great Plains
Yaoping CUI1,2, Xiangming XIAO2,3(), Russell B DOUGHTY2, Yaochen QIN1, Sujie LIU1, Nan LI1, Guosong ZHAO4, Jinwei DONG4()
1. Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for the Middle and Lower Yellow River Regions, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, China
2. Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, Center for Spatial Analysis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
3. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200438, China
4. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
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Interpreting the relationship between urban heat island (UHI) and urban vegetation is a basis for understanding the impacts of underlying surfaces on UHI. The calculation of UHI intensity (UHII) requires observations from paired stations in both urban and rural areas. Due to the limited number of paired meteorological stations, many studies have used remotely sensed land surface temperature, but these time-series land surface temperature data are often heavily affected by cloud cover and other factors. These factors, together with the algorithm for inversion of land surface temperature, lead to accuracy problems in detecting the UHII, especially in cities with weak UHII. Based on meteorological observations from the Oklahoma Mesonet, a world-class network, we quantified the UHII and trends in eight cities of the Great Plains, USA, where data from at least one pair of urban and rural meteorological stations were available. We examined the changes and variability in urban temperature, UHII, vegetation condition (as measured by enhanced vegetation index, EVI), and evapotranspiration (ET). We found that both UHI and urban cold islands (UCI) occurred among the eight cities during 2000–2014 (as measured by impervious surface area). Unlike what is generally considered, UHII in only three cities significantly decreased as EVI and ET increased (p<0.1), indicating that the UHI or UCI cannot be completely explained simply from the perspective of the underlying surface. Increased vegetative cover (signaled by EVI) can increase ET, and thereby effectively mitigate the UHI. Each study station clearly showed that the underlying surface or vegetation affects urban-rural temperature, and that these factors should be considered during analysis of the UHI effect over time.

Keywords urbanization      evapotranspiration      urban cold island      background climate      air temperature     
Corresponding Authors: Xiangming XIAO,Jinwei DONG   
Just Accepted Date: 12 October 2018   Online First Date: 16 November 2018    Issue Date: 16 May 2019
 Cite this article:   
Yaoping CUI,Xiangming XIAO,Russell B DOUGHTY, et al. The relationships between urban-rural temperature difference and vegetation in eight cities of the Great Plains[J]. Front. Earth Sci., 2019, 13(2): 290-302.
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Yaoping CUI
Xiangming XIAO
Yaochen QIN
Sujie LIU
Nan LI
Guosong ZHAO
Jinwei DONG
Fig.1  Study area and stations. The red and cyan dots are the meteorological stations located in urban and rural areas, respectively. The red and cyan circles are 5 km buffer areas of each station. The red regions show the impervious surface areas in 2011.
City Urban station Rural station
Name Altitude/m Major climate regulations Name Altitude/m Major climate regulations
Oklahoma City OKCN 362 Grasslands/Herbaceous SPEN 373 Grasslands/Herbaceous
ELRE 419 Grasslands/Herbaceous
OKCE 355 Grasslands/Herbaceous GUTH 330 Grasslands/Herbaceous
MINC 430 Grasslands/Herbaceous
Tulsa BIXB 184 Cultivated Crop HECT 243 Pasture/Hay
Norman NRMN 357 Grasslands/Herbaceous WASH 345 Pasture/Hay
Stillwater STIL 272 Grasslands/Herbaceous MARE
Cultivated Crop
Tahlequah TAHL 290 Pasture/Hay COOK 299 Pasture/Hay
McAlester MCAL 230 Grasslands/Herbaceous STUA 256 Pasture/Hay
Chickasha CHIC 328 Cultivated Crop NINN 356 Developed Low Intensity
Pauls Valley PAUL 291 Developed Open Space BYAR 345 Pasture/Hay
Tab.1  The basic station information within 5 km at the eight cities. All the station information comes from Oklahoma Mesonet
Fig.2  The relationship between urban temperature and rural temperature at the eight cities. Blue dotted lines indicate the linear fitting lines over time; black lines mean the “y = x” lines.
City Temperature trend/(°C·yr1) EVI trend ET trend/(mm·yr1) Impervious surface percentage/%*
Urban Rural UHII Urban Rural DEVI Urban Rural DET Urban 2001 Rural 2001 Urban 2011 Rural 2011
Oklahoma City –0.007 0.021 –0.028 0.003 0.002 0.000 –4.149 –3.106 –1.043 29.07 1.76 32.26 1.85
Tulsa –0.032 –0.060 0.028 0.000 0.000 0.000 –0.719 –1.649 0.930 5.27 0.72 8.01 0.76
Norman 0.018 0.009 0.001 –0.001 0.000 –0.001 –3.232 –1.406 –1.826 24.26 0.15 29.21 0.15
Stillwater 0.009 0.004 0.005 –0.001 –0.001 0.000 –2.635 –2.393 –0.242 12.58 0.98 14.54 1.12
Tahlequah 0.007 –0.004 0.011 0.000 –0.001 0.001 –2.718 1.143 –3.860 0.86 0.12 1.09 0.12
McAlester –0.028 –0.006 –0.021 –0.001 0.000 0.000 –1.971 –3.582 1.610 3.81 0.26 4.80 0.33
Chickasha –0.004 –0.010 0.006 0.000 0.000 –0.001 –1.410 –1.223 –0.187 8.66 1.25 9.50 1.33
Pauls Valley 0.001 0.001 0.000 –0.001 0.001 –0.002 –4.212 –0.647 –3.565 4.49 0.43 5.07 0.44
Tab.2  The annual linear trends (slope) of temperature, EVI, and ET from 2000 to 2014, and percentage of impervious surface for urban and rural stations in 2001 and 2011. DEVI and DET is the trend difference between EVI or ET for urban and rural areas (EVIurban– EVIrural; ETurban– ETrural). All the value is the trends over time (year) accordingly except the urban impervious percentage (*) in 2001 and 2011
Fig.3  The relationship between temperature trends of UHII and rural temperature in the eight cities from 2000 to 2014.
Fig.4  The relationship between annual mean EVI and urban temperature, and between DEVI (EVIurban– EVIrural) and UHII or UCII in the eight cities from 2000 to 2014.
Fig.5  The relationship between annual mean ET and urban temperature, and between DET (ETurban– ETrural) and UHII or UCII in the eight cities from 2000 to 2014.
Fig.6  The urban/vegetation expansion and intensification (UEI/VEI) in an urban area. Human-managed vegetation in urban areas: (a) introduced plants; (b) irrigation; (c) natural vegetation decline in winter; and (d) urban vegetation growth in winter (Oklahoma, December 9, 2016), possibly due to irrigation and UHI. The comparison of (e) to (f) demonstrates the coexistence of increases in UEI and VEI. The two photos were taken in August 2003 and September 2016 and accessed via Google Earth.
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