Urbanization-Induced Increases in Heavy Precipitation are Magnified by Moist Heatwaves in an Urban Agglomeration of East China

Chenxi Li, Xihui Gu*, Louise J. Slater, Jianyu Liu, Jianfeng Li, Xiang Zhang, Dongdong Kong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Heavy precipitation (HP) events can be preceded by moist heatwaves (HWs; i.e., hot and humid weather), and both can be intensified by urbanization. However, the effect of moist HWs on increasing urban HP remains unknown. Based on statistical analyses of daily weather observations and ERA5 reanalysis data, we herein investigate the effect of moist HWs on urban-intensified HP by dividing summer HP events into NoHW- and HW-preceded events in the Yangtze River delta (YRD) urban agglomeration of China. During the period 1961–2019, the YRD has experienced more frequent, longer-lasting, and stronger intense HP events in the summer season (i.e., June–August), and urbanization has contributed to these increases (by 22.66%–37.50%). In contrast, urban effects on HP are almost absent if we remove HW-preceded HP events from all HP events. Our results show that urbanization-induced increases in HP are associated with, and magnified by, moist HWs in urban areas of the YRD region. Moist HWs are conducive to an unstable atmosphere and stormy weather, and they also enhance urban heat island intensity, driving increases in HP over urban areas.

Significance Statement:
The contribution of urbanization to increases in heavy precipitation has been widely reported in previous studies. HP events can be preceded by moist heatwaves (hot and humid extremes); however, it is unknown whether moist HWs enhance urban effects on HP. We choose the Yangtze River delta urban agglomeration to explore this question and find that urbanization contributes to the increasing frequency, duration, maximum intensity, and cumulative intensity of HP events in the summer season. However, this urban signal is not detectable if we remove HW-preceded events from all HP events. In other words, moist HWs play a key role in magnifying urbanization-induced increases in HP. Given that urban areas are projected to continue expanding and moist HWs are projected to occur with increasing frequency and intensity in the future, the role of HWs in the urban water cycle merits further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-709
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume36
Issue number2
Early online date5 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Atmospheric Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Extreme events
  • Climate change
  • Urban meteorology

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