The Urban Heat Island and Its Impact on Heat Waves and Human Health in Shanghai

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Int J Biometeorol (2010) 54:75–84
DOI 10.1007/s00484-009-0256-x

ORIGINAL PAPER

The urban heat island and its impact on heat waves
and human health in Shanghai
Jianguo Tan & Youfei Zheng & Xu Tang & Changyi Guo & Liping Li & Guixiang Song & Xinrong Zhen & Dong Yuan & Adam J. Kalkstein & Furong Li & Heng Chen

Received: 17 December 2008 / Revised: 29 July 2009 / Accepted: 3 August 2009 / Published online: 1 September 2009 # ISB 2009

Abstract With global warming forecast to continue into
the foreseeable future, heat waves are very likely to
increase in both frequency and intensity. In urban regions,
these future heat waves will be exacerbated by the urban
heat island effect, and will have the potential to negatively influence the health and welfare of urban residents. In order to investigate the health effects of the urban heat island
(UHI) in Shanghai, China, 30 years of meteorological
J. Tan (*) : X. Zhen
Shanghai Urban Environmental Meteorology Center,
951 Jinxiu Road, Pudong,
Shanghai 200135, China
e-mail: jianguot@21cn.com
Y. Zheng
Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster of Ministry of Education, Nanjing University of Information Science &Technology,
Nanjing 210044, China
X. Tang
Shanghai Meteorological Bureau,
166 Puxi Road,
Shanghai 200030, China
C. Guo : G. Song : D. Yuan
Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control & Prevention,
1380 ZhongShan West Road,
Shanghai 200336, China
L. Li : F. Li : H. Chen
Injury Prevention Research Centre,
Medical College of Shantou University,
22 Xinling Road,
Shantou City 515041, Guangdong Province, China
A. J. Kalkstein
Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering,
United States Military Academy,
West Point, NY, USA

records (1975–2004) were examined for 11 first- and
second-order weather stations in and around Shanghai.
Additionally, automatic weather observation data recorded
in recent years as well as daily all-cause summer mortality
counts in 11 urban, suburban, and exurban regions (1998–
2004) in Shanghai have been used. The results show that
different sites (city center or surroundings) have experienced different degrees of warming as a result of increasing urbanization. In turn, this has resulted in a more extensive urban heat island effect, causing additional hot days and

heat waves in urban regions compared to rural locales. An
examination of summer mortality rates in and around
Shanghai yields heightened heat-related mortality in urban
regions, and we conclude that the UHI is directly
responsible, acting to worsen the adverse health effects
from exposure to extreme thermal conditions.
Keywords Global warming . Urban heat island . Heat wave .
Human health

Introduction
In recent years, the impact of weather on human health has
become an issue of increased significance, especially
considering the potential impacts of global warming and
an increased urban heat island effect due to urbanization
(Kunst et al. 1993; Kalkstein and Greene 1997; Guest et al.
1999; Smoyer et al. 2000). Warming of the climate system
is unequivocal. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)
clearly indicates that the updated 100-year linear trend
(1906–2005) of global surface temperature is 0.74 K. The
warming trend over the last 50 years has averaged 0.13 K
per decade and 11 of the last 12 years (1995–2006) rank
among the 12 warmest years since 1850 (IPCC 2007). A

Int J Biometeorol (2010) 54:75–84

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warming climate will likely result in an increase in the
frequency and intensity of heat waves (McMichael et al.
1996; Meehl et al. 2001; Patz and Khaliq 2002).
The urban heat island (UHI) has become one of the largest
problems associated with the urbanization and industrialization of human civilization, as the increased temperatures associated with the UHI tend to exacerbate the threats to
human health posed by thermal stress. As a result, the UHI
has been a central theme among climatologists, and it is well...
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