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Impacts of urban densification and vertical growth on urban heat environment: A case study in the 4th Ring Road area, Zhengzhou, China

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alistair FordORCiD, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Rapid urbanisation has significant impacts on the surface morphology, local regional climate, and thermal environment in urban areas. Previous studies have focused on horizontal urban expansion. Here we analyse both the impacts of horizontal sprawl and vertical changes on the urban thermal environment. We develop a method to understand the relationship between urban morphology and urban heat. First, we classified urban land-use and stereo image pairs to extract building heights. We then determined the links between the land surface temperature (LST) characteristics and the variations in building density (BD) and building height (BH). The method is applied to the 4th Ring Road Area, Zhengzhou City, China, that is shown to have experienced significant 3D expansion between 2013 and 2017, with a widespread shift from low to high BD, a marked decrease in single-storey buildings, and a sharp increase in high rise (≥50m) buildings. However, the relationship between BH, BD and LST differs between summer and winter, is non-monotonic and switches directionality at BD = 0.2 and BH = 24m and 100m. The exact nature of these relationships, and in particular the inflection points that are critical to building density and height decisions, will vary between cities. However, the method provides critical information for decision-makers seeking to address the challenge of climate change within the spatial planning process.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chen X, Wang Z, Yang H, Ford AC, Dawson RJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Cleaner Production

Year: 2023

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 24/04/2023

Acceptance date: 18/04/2023

Date deposited: 25/04/2023

ISSN (print): 0959-6526

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1786

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2023.137247

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/m0wx-0718


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