TU Berlin study shows built environment plays crucial role in modifying urban heat
A recent study conducted by researchers at the Technical University Berlin and the Einstein Center Climate Change has found that the features of urban form have a significant impact on the ambient temperature in cities, affecting the well-being of urban residents.
The study, which was published in the journal Urban Climate, used machine learning models to identify predictive features of urban form that shape urban ambient temperature (AT) in Berlin, Zürich, and Sevilla.
According to the lead author of the study, Aicha Zekar, “Our research shows that the built environment plays a crucial role in modifying urban heat and can have a significant impact on the well-being of city dwellers. Vegetation cover and water bodies are most significant in explaining spatial temperature patterns during the daytime, while the impervious land cover is most critical at nighttime.”
During summer – according to the study, the average ambient temperature in dense urban areas was found to be 3 degrees Celsius higher than in suburban sites across all cities.
The research also identified specific city hot spots, such as Charlottenburg and Friedrichshain in Berlin, where temperatures can be up to 4 degrees Celsius higher than the city average. In Zurich and Sevilla, the temperature in hot spots was found to be up to 3 degrees Celsius higher than the average. These findings provide insight into urban heat stress effects and help identify areas that are vulnerable to heat waves, which could inform the development of effective strategies to mitigate the impact of extreme heat events in urban areas.
The findings of this research provide crucial insights for urban planners and policymakers towards heat mitigation and sustainable urban developments through region-tailored modifications and replacement of land-cover. The study’s approach also enables identifying hot spots or neighborhoods that require prioritized heat mitigation interventions.
“Interventions to reach maximum cooling impact require a combination of increased urban green coverage, such as vertical greening at buildings, and a replacement of asphalt with trees,” says group leader Felix Creutzig and co-author of the study. “Our approach enables mapping the relative temperature differences patterns across the city and within the urban boundaries, which can inform urban planners about optimizing urban block design with tailored mitigation strategies to alleviate the warming impact in the most affected regions.”
This study highlights the importance of understanding the impact of urban form features on ambient temperature and emphasizes the need for collaborative efforts among stakeholders to mitigate the effects of urban heat on the well-being of city residents.