Urban Climate

1 Why is Urban Climate important to us?

If you live in a city, it means you are exposed to the urban climate, and your daily life is affected by it. The quality of the air you breath, the hot temperature you experience in a sunny day during the summer, and even the rainy days in cities (Shepherd et al., 2002) are all directly or indirectly related to how cities modify their own climate.

Let’s imagine a person who is a daily commuter of a certain route, e.g. London-Reading. This commute is a big part of the person’s daily life; therefore, he/she tries to understand every aspects of this commute in order to make this regular journey more convenient, and to be prepared for unexpected events. Similarly, the urban climate is an inevitable part of our daily life; hence, understating how it works, how it is modified by us, and how it impacts various aspects of our life is of increasingly importance.

Urbanization, meaning people move from rural to urban areas, is an old habit of human beings since the appearance of cities. However, in the recent decades, the rate of urbanization has increased significantly (Figure 1). Unfortunately, this increase in the population of urban areas has happened faster than we could be prepared for it. Therefore, today, we are struggling with many city related environmental problem e.g. urban heat island (UHI, I will talk about this in details later on), air and soil pollution, low water quality, etc.

Figure 1: Urban-rural population (source)

In addition, cities are the main producers of greenhouse gases which are the main contributors of climate change. As the population of cities grows, it is expected that we will face more serious issues both related to cities local climate and global climate change. Now the important question is that how can fix the current urban climate problems while being prepared for the potential future complications?

2 Future megacities: threat or opportunity?

If you think our current overwhelmed gigantic cities cannot get bigger than they are now, you are very wrong. According to the united nation projection (United Nations, 2018), by 2050 around 76 % of the world populating will live in cities; while this number is currently around 50 %. This is not by its own a horrifying news because having more people in cities means more people have access to health care, job opportunities, and in nutshell, better life quality (many might not agree with me that cities provide better life quality, and this all depends on how you define a better life. However, for many people in the world, just the fact of not being hungry, or having access to a fair health care system means a better life). In addition, from an environmental perspective, more growth of cities in the future means that there are still many new cities, or many part of current cities that are not built yet in order to fulfil the demand of future cities population; therefore, we should look at this projection as an opportunity to build up these future structures to be more environmentally friendly than the excising ones.

3 What do we do as urban climatologist?

One way of getting prepared for the future of cities is to deal with the current environmental challenges that we are facing now. This gives us an opportunity to have a better understating of urban areas and their complex interactions with urban climate. When we have a full understating about urban areas and their multiplex climate, we are able to purpose solutions to the current and potential future problems. This is the core of what urban climatologist focus on. Using the combination of state of the art urban climate models and novel atmosphere measurement tools, urban climatologist study the complex interaction between urban land surface and atmosphere.

In this blog, I will give a summary of my research activities, and will try to keep them updated. You can learn more about my research here:

Research overview

City-scale atmospheric circulations

Cities Hydro-climate

Urban Climate Modelling

Satellite imagery and urban land cover fraction

Reference

[1] Shepherd, J. M., Pierce, H. and Negri, A. J.: Rainfall modification by major urban areas: Observations from spaceborne rain radar on the trmm satellite, Journal of applied meteorology, 41(7), 689–701, 2002.

[2] United Nations: 2018 revision of world urbanization prospects, 2018.