Dan Li Publishes New Paper on Urban Heat and Will Become IOC’s New Urban-H Associate Director of Heat

Boston University Associate Professor of Earth & Environment Dan Li’s new publication, Persistent Urban Heat, with co-authors Linying Wang (Boston University), Weilin Liao (Sun Yat-sen University), Ting Sun (University College London), Gabriel Katul (Duke University), Elie Bou-Zeid (Princeton University), and Björn Maronga (Leibniz University Hannover), tackles the urban heat island effect and demonstrates that urban surface and near-surface air temperatures are significantly more persistent than their rural counterparts in cities dominated by impervious materials with large thermal inertia. Further, using these materials will result in stronger urban temperature persistence, especially in tropical cities. Professor Li and his co-authors propose potential mitigation strategies to ameliorate the magnitude and persistence of urban temperatures, including white roofs and “shading approaches,” such as strategic tree planting.

Alongside his new publication, we are delighted to announce that Professor Li will join the Initiative on Cities (IOC) as the Urban-H Associate Director of Heat, effective July 1, 2024. In this capacity, he will be at the forefront of the IOC, spearheading the development of innovative solutions to urban heat challenges. Professor Li’s appointment follows that of Professor Lucy Hutyra, Professor of Earth & Environment and former interim Director of the Initiative on Cities, and he will continue our center’s ongoing efforts to work on policy-oriented solutions to mitigate urban heat as a part of our Urban-H Index research initiative.  

Director Loretta Lees looks forward to Professor Li joining the IOC as an Associate Director: “I am delighted that Dan is joining us! Not only is he a stellar urban climatologist, but he also has wonderful energy and enthusiasm that will no doubt push forward BU’s expertise and renown on urban heat.” 

Li has received two Early Stage Urban Research Awards from the IOC. His first, in 2018, involved creating a modeling tool that quantified the city-scale impacts of heat mitigation efforts to inform municipal policy design; his second, in 2023, utilized hyper-resolution large-eddy simulations, an innovative modeling program, to evaluate heat mitigation in an urban canopy in Chelsea, MA, with realistic weather conditions.

Li received his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Princeton University. He currently oversees the Environmental Fluid Mechanics Group in the Department of Earth and Environment, which analyzes interactions between the lower atmosphere and the Earth’s surface, utilizing research tools to address environmental challenges, including climate change and urbanization.