Anthropogenic emissions and urbanization increase risk of compound hot hot extremes in cities

Jun Wang, Yang Chen*, Guanhao He, Simon Tett, Zhongwei Yan, Panmao Zhai, Jinming Feng, Wenjun Ma, Cunrui Huang, Yamin Hu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban areas are experiencing strongly increasing hot temperature extremes. However, these urban heat events have seldom been the focus of traditional detection and attribution analysis designed for regional to global changes. Here we show that compound (day–night sustained) hot extremes are more dangerous than solely daytime or nighttime heat, especially to female and older urban residents. Urban compound hot extremes across eastern China have increased by 1.76 days per decade from 1961 to 2014 with fingerprints of urban expansion and anthropogenic emissions detected by a stepwise detection and attribution method. Their attributable fractions are estimated as 0.51 (urbanization), 1.63 (greenhouse gases) and −0.54 (other anthropogenic forcings) days per decade. Future emissions and urbanization would make these compound events two to five times more frequent (2090s versus 2010s), leading to a threefold-to-sixfold growth in urban population exposure. Our findings call for tailored adaptation planning against rapidly growing health threats from compound heat in cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084–1089
JournalNature Climate Change
Early online date1 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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