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Urban Climate Trends

A core focus of our research group is the measurement of temperature trends in large U.S. cities. While global-scale temperature trends are reported annually by NASA and other organizations, such globally averaged measurements of climate change provide a poor indicator of the pace of warming in cities. Because cities are subject to warming brought about both by the global greenhouse effect and the localized urban heat island effect, globally averaged measurements of temperature change are likely to significantly underestimate the true pace of warming in cities. Here we report temperature trends for the most populous U.S. cities since the 1950s. In addition to urban temperature trends, we also report rural temperature trends in proximity to each city to assess the extent to which cities are warming in excess of their rural hinterlands - a direct measurement of the degree to which urban development patterns are influencing climate change in cities (a full description of our approach is available here). Over the period of 1961 to 2010, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Greensboro were found to be experiencing the most rapid urban warming in the United States, with rates of warming several times greater than that of the planet as a whole. A list of the top 20 cities based on our measurement of urban warming can be found here. Trends from individual cities can be found by clicking on the corresponding circle in the following map.