The replacement of natural lands with urban structures has multiple environmental consequences, yet little is known about the magnitude and extent of albedo-induced warming contributions from urbanization at the global scale in the past and future. Here, we apply an empirical approach to quantify the climate effects of past urbanization and future urbanization projected under different shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs). We find an albedo-induced warming effect of urbanization for both the past and the projected futures under three illustrative scenarios. The albedo decease from urbanization in 2018 relative to 2001 has yielded a 100-year average annual global warming of 0.00014 [0.00008, 0.00021] °C. Without proper mitigation, future urbanization in 2050 relative to 2018 and that in 2100 relative to 2018 under the intermediate emission scenario (SSP2-4.5) would yield a 100-year average warming effect of 0.00107 [0.00057,0.00179] °C and 0.00152 [0.00078,0.00259] °C, respectively, through altering the Earth’s albedo.
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Ouyang, Zutao; Sciusco, Pietro; Jiao, Tong; Feron, Sarah; Lei, Cheyenne; Li, Fei; John, Ranjeet; Fan, Peilei; Li, Xia; Williams, Christopher A.; Chen, Guangzhao; Wang, Chenghao; and Chen, Jiquan, "Albedo changes caused by future urbanization contribute to global warming" (2022). Geography. 857.
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Ouyang, Zutao, et al. "Albedo changes caused by future urbanization contribute to global warming." Nature communications 13.1 (2022): 3800.