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How to improve understanding of climate risks in urbanised areas

Focus on social and physical systems to better understand risks of flooding, drought, heat, and deterioration of water and air quality
Photograph of people walking on a zebra crossing
© Christopher Burns via Unsplash

There are many drivers for urbanisation and these may differ slightly from one geographic region, country or place to another. Cities have also been defined as ways of life, states of mind, collections of traits and types of occupation.

Cities can be described as urban neighbourhood typologies that focus on both social and physical systems to better understand risks in urban environments, such as flooding, drought and heat, as well as urbanisation and climate change-related topics like deterioration of water and air quality.

Adaptation experts need to look at all characteristics of the urban environment for a better understanding of risks in urban environments (with all its physical and social characteristics) and make it as resilient as possible.

As a consequence of climate change and urbanisation, many cities will have to deal with more flooding and extreme heat stress. A framework to maximise the effectiveness of nature-based solutions for flood risk reduction and thermal comfort enhancement (preventing heat stress) is advised and should involve an assessment of hazards with the use of models (physical elements) and field measurements (technical and social science as storytelling and surveys).

With a framework, suitable implementation sites for nature-based solutions can be detected and their effectiveness for thermal comfort enhancement and flood risk reduction can be justified.

Results of studies carried out in Asia show that the most effective performance in terms of flood mitigation and thermal comfort enhancement is likely achieved by applying a range of different measures at various locations.

There are frameworks that are particularly suitable for assessing and planning flood mitigation measures in combination with heat-stress reduction.

Additional reading

Majidi, A.N.; Vojinovic, Z.; Alves, A.; Weesakul, S.; Sanchez, A.; Boogaard, F.; Kluck, J. Planning Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Flood Reduction and Thermal Comfort Enhancement. Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6361.

De Graaf-van Dinther (ed.) (2020) Climate resilient urban areas. Governance, design and development in coastal delta cities. Palgrave Pivot. Palgrave MacMillan, Publication in press Chapter by Kluck & Boogaard: Climate resilient urban retrofit at street level.

Boogaard F.C., (2020, in press) Analysing Climate Change Adaptation in Africa, Asia and Europe with the citizen science ClimateScan Platform. In: Leal Filho W., Luetz J., Ayal D. (eds) Handbook of Climate Change Management. Springer, Cham.

© University of Groningen
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Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change

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