Localized synergies between heat waves and urban heat islands: Implications on human thermal comfort and urban heat management.


He BJ(1), Wang J(2), Liu H(3), Ulpiani G(4).
Author information:
(1)School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Chongqing University, Chongqing, 400045, China; Key Laboratory of New Technology for Construction of Cities in Mountain Area, Ministry of Education, Chongqing University, Chongqing, 400045, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, 510641, China.
(3)Institute of Space and Earth Information Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, China.
(4)Department of Industrial Engineering and Mathematical Sciences
(DIISM), Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, 60121, Italy.


Heat waves (HWs) and urban heat islands (UHIs) can potentially interact. The mechanisms behind their synergy are not fully disclosed. Starting from the localized UHI phenomenon, this study aims i) to reveal their associated impacts on human thermal comfort through three different definitions of HW events, based on air temperature (airT), wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) and human-perceived temperature (AppT) respectively, and ii) to understand the role of air moisture and wind. The analysis was conducted in four districts (NH, JD, MH and XJH) with different urban development patterns and geographic conditions, in the megacity of Shanghai with a subtropical humid climate. Results evidenced the localized interplay between HWs and UHIs. The results indicate that less urbanized districts were generally more sensitive to the synergies. JD district recorded the highest urban heat island intensity (UHII) amplification, regardless of the specific HW definition. Notably, during AppT-HWs, the increment was observed in terms of maximum (1.3 °C), daily average (0.8 °C), diurnal (0.4 °C) and nocturnal UHII (1.0 °C). Nevertheless, localized synergies between HWs and UHIs at different stations also exhibited some commonalities. Under airT-HW, the UHII was amplified throughout the day at all stations. Under WBGT-HW, diurnal UHII (especially at 11:00-17:00 LST) was consistently amplified at all stations. Under AppT-HW conditions, the nocturnal UHII was slightly amplified at all stations. Air moisture and wind alleviated the synergistic heat exacerbation to the benefit of thermal comfort. The extent depended on geographic condition, diurnal and nocturnal scenarios, temperature type and HW/normal conditions. Stronger HW-UHI synergies indicate the necessity to develop specific urban heat emergency response plans, able to capture and intervene on the underlying mechanisms. This study paves to way to their identification.