Urbanization and climate change: Insights from eco-hydrological diagnostics

To quantify how urbanization induced long-term changes have altered the evolution of urban climate, a novel eco-hydrological diagnostic is introduced and applied globally, to a developing and a developed country (China and US-America). Urban areas are (i) geographically identified by remote sensing based nighttime light, (ii) physically embedded in state spaces spanned by suitable combinations of surface energy and water fluxes comprising the rainfall-runoff chain, and (iii) dynamically characterized by the time evolution of the surface fluxes at geographically fixed locations, analyzed as trajectories in state space, and interpreted by an attribution model separating anthropogenic from climate induced causes. The results describe the long term climatological settings of urban areas in a net radiation versus dryness diagram, while the attribution of change is diagnosed in a state space spanned by energy and water excess: (i) Cities in China are characterized by a bi-modal distribution separated by the boundary between water and energy-limited (northern and southern) regimes while US-American cities are assembling unimodally on this boundary, and globally the urbanized areas are also aligned along this boundary between water and energy-limited regimes. (ii) Attribution of eco-hydrological changes of urbanized regions to climate and human-induced causes shows also basic differences between the developing and developed country: urbanization in Chinese cities is characterized by a ‘wet-gets-drier’ and ‘dry-gets-wetter’ paradigm of the climate-induced contributions, due to which cities tend towards a unimodal state as it is observed for US-American urban areas. Finally, implications for large scale city planning are discussed in the outlook.


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  • Accession Number: 01679674
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 25 2018 3:26PM