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Diurnal interaction between urban expansion, climate change and adaptation in US cities

Nature Climate Changevolume 8pages10971103 (2018) | Download Citation


Climate change and urban development are projected to substantially warm US cities, yet dynamic interaction between these two drivers of urban heat may modify the warming. Here, we show that business-as-usual GHG-induced warming and corresponding urban expansion would interact nonlinearly, reducing summer night-time warming by 0.5 K over the twenty-first century in most US regions. Nevertheless, large projected warming remains, particularly at night when the degree of urban expansion warming approaches that of climate change. Joint, high-intensity implementation of adaptation strategies, including cool and evaporative roofs and street trees, decreases projected daytime mean and extreme heat, but region- and emissions scenario-dependent nocturnal warming of 2–7 K persists. A novel adaptation strategy—lightweight urban materials—yields ~1 K night-time cooling and minor daytime warming in denser areas. Our findings highlight the diurnal interplay of urban warming and adaptation cooling, and underscore the inability of infrastructure-based adaptation to offset projected night-time warming, and the consequent necessity for simultaneous emissions reductions.

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This work was supported by National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network Cooperative Agreement 1444758, the Urban Water Innovation Network, and NSF grants SES-1520803 and EAR‐1204774. The authors acknowledge support from Research Computing at Arizona State University for the provision of high-performance supercomputing services. We also thank A. Martilli for helpful discussions.

Author information


  1. Urban Climate Research Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

    • E. Scott Krayenhoff
    • , Mohamed Moustaoui
    • , Ashley M. Broadbent
    • , Vishesh Gupta
    •  & Matei Georgescu
  2. School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

    • E. Scott Krayenhoff
    • , Ashley M. Broadbent
    • , Vishesh Gupta
    •  & Matei Georgescu
  3. School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

    • E. Scott Krayenhoff
  4. School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

    • Mohamed Moustaoui
    •  & Matei Georgescu
  5. Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

    • Mohamed Moustaoui
    •  & Matei Georgescu


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E.S.K., M.M. and M.G. designed the research. E.S.K., M.M., A.M.B. and M.G. performed the model simulations. E.S.K., A.M.B. and V.G. analysed the model output. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to E. Scott Krayenhoff or Matei Georgescu.

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