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  1. Abstract The two-resistance mechanism (TRM) attribution method, which was designed to analyze the urban–rural contrast of temperature, is improved to study the urban–rural contrast of heat stress. The improved method can be applied to diagnosing any heat stress index that is a function of temperature and humidity. As an example, in this study we use it to analyze the summertime urban–rural contrast of simplified wet bulb globe temperature (SWBGT) simulated by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory land model coupled with an urban canopy model. We find that the urban–rural contrast of SWBGT is primarily caused by the lack of evapotranspiration in urban areas during the daytime and the release of heat storage during the nighttime, with the urban–rural differences in aerodynamic features playing either positive or negative roles depending on the background climate. Compared to the magnitude of the urban–rural contrast of temperature, the magnitude of the urban–rural contrast of SWBGT is damped due to the moisture deficits in urban areas. We further find that the urban–rural contrast of 2-m air temperature/SWBGT is fundamentally different from that of canopy air temperature/SWBGT. Turbulent mixing in the surface layer leads to much smaller urban–rural contrasts of 2-m air temperature/SWBGT than their canopy air counterparts. Significance Statement Heat leads to serious public health concerns, but urban and rural areas have different levels of heat stress. Our study explains the magnitude and pattern of the simulated urban–rural contrast in heat stress at the global scale and improves an attribution method to quantify which biophysical processes are mostly responsible for the simulated urban–rural contrast in heat stress. We highlight two well-known causes of higher heat stress in cities: the lack of evapotranspiration and the stronger release of heat storage. Meanwhile, we draw attention to the vegetation types in rural areas, which determine the urban–rural difference in surface roughness and significantly affect the urban–rural difference in heat stress. Last, we find the urban–rural contrasts of 2-m air temperature/SWBGT are largely reduced relative to their canopy air counterparts due to the turbulent mixing effect. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 15, 2024
  2. Abstract In this work, we investigate the effect of areawide building retrofitting on summertime, street-level outdoor temperatures in an urban district in Berlin, Germany. We perform two building-resolving, weeklong large-eddy simulations: one with nonretrofitted buildings and the other with retrofitted buildings in the entire domain to meet today’s energy efficiency standards. The comparison of the two simulations reveals that the mean outdoor temperatures are higher with retrofitted buildings during daytime conditions. This behavior is caused by the much smaller inertia of the outermost roof/wall layer in the retrofitting case, which is thermally decoupled from the inner roof/wall layers by an insulation layer. As a result, the outermost layer heats up more rigorously during the daytime, leading to increased sensible heat fluxes into the atmosphere. During the nighttime, the outermost layer’s temperature drops down faster, resulting in cooling of the atmosphere. However, as the simulation progresses, the cooling effect becomes smaller and the warming effect becomes larger. After 1 week, we find the mean temperatures to be 4 K higher during the daytime while the cooling effects become negligible. Significance Statement Building retrofitting is taking place in Europe and other continents as a measure to reduce energy consumption. The change in the building envelope directly influences the urban atmosphere. Our study reveals that areawide retrofitting in a German city district can have negative effects on the outdoor microclimate in summer by causing higher air temperatures. 
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  3. The impacts of extreme heat events are amplified in cities due to unique urban thermal properties. Urban greenspace mitigates high temperatures through evapotranspiration and shading; however, quantification of vegetative cooling potential in cities is often limited to simple remote sensing greenness indices or sparse, in situ measurements. Here, we develop a spatially explicit, high-resolution model of urban latent heat flux from vegetation. The model iterates through three core equations that consider urban climatological and physiological characteristics, producing estimates of latent heat flux at 30-m spatial resolution and hourly temporal resolution. We find strong agreement between field observations and model estimates of latent heat flux across a range of ecosystem types, including cities. This model introduces a valuable tool to quantify the spatial heterogeneity of vegetation cooling benefits across the complex landscape of cities at an adequate resolution to inform policies addressing the effects of extreme heat events. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract In this study, we simulate the magnitude of urban heat islands (UHIs) during heat wave (HWs) in two cities with contrasting climates (Boston, Massachusetts, and Phoenix, Arizona) using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and quantify their drivers with a newly developed attribution method. During the daytime, a surface UHI (SUHI) is found in Boston, which is mainly caused by the higher urban surface resistance that reduces the latent heat flux and the higher urban aerodynamic resistance r a that inhibits convective heat transfer between the urban surface and the lower atmosphere. In contrast, a daytime surface urban cool island is found in Phoenix, which is mainly due to the lower urban r a that facilitates convective heat transfer. In terms of near-surface air UHI (AUHI), there is almost no daytime AUHI in either city. At night, an SUHI and an AUHI are identified in Boston that are due to the stronger release of heat storage in urban areas. In comparison, the lower urban r a in Phoenix enhances convective heat transfer from the atmosphere to the urban surface at night, leading to a positive SUHI but no AUHI. Our study highlights that the magnitude of UHIs or urban cool islands is strongly controlled by urban–rural differences in terms of aerodynamic features, vegetation and moisture conditions, and heat storage, which show contrasting characteristics in different regions. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Urban heat islands (UHIs) are caused by a multitude of changes induced by urbanization. However, the relative importance of biophysical and atmospheric factors in controlling the UHI intensity remains elusive. In this study, we quantify the magnitude of surface UHIs (SUHIs), or surface urban cool islands (SUCIs), and elucidate their biophysical and atmospheric drivers on the basis of observational data collected from one urban site and two rural grassland sites in and near the city of Nanjing, China. Results show that during the daytime a strong SUCI effect is observed when the short grassland site is used as the reference site whereas a moderate SUHI effect is observed when the tall grassland is used as the reference site. We find that the former is mostly caused by the lower aerodynamic resistance for convective heat transfer at the urban site and the latter is primarily caused by the higher surface resistance for evapotranspiration at the urban site. At night, SUHIs are observed when either the short or the tall grassland site is used as the reference site and are predominantly caused by the stronger release of heat storage at the urban site. In general, the magnitude of SUHI is much weaker, and even becomes SUCI during daytime, with the short grassland site being the reference site because of its larger aerodynamic resistance. The study highlights that the magnitude of SUHIs and SUCIs is mostly controlled by urban–rural differences of biophysical factors, with urban–rural differences of atmospheric conditions playing a minor role. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The expansion of an urban tree canopy is a commonly proposed nature-based solution to combat excess urban heat. The influence trees have on urban climates via shading is driven by the morphological characteristics of trees, whereas tree transpiration is predominantly a physiological process dependent on environmental conditions and the built environment. The heterogeneous nature of urban landscapes, unique tree species assemblages, and land management decisions make it difficult to predict the magnitude and direction of cooling by transpiration. In the present article, we synthesize the emerging literature on the mechanistic controls on urban tree transpiration. We present a case study that illustrates the relationship between transpiration (using sap flow data) and urban temperatures. We examine the potential feedbacks among urban canopy, the built environment, and climate with a focus on extreme heat events. Finally, we present modeled data demonstrating the influence of transpiration on temperatures with shifts in canopy extent and irrigation during a heat wave. 
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