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Project Context and Objectives

Climate change and urbanization are transforming life globally, with direct impacts on each other, yet they are rarely studied together across disciplines. The urbisphere is a Synergy Project funded by the European Research Council (ERC-SyG) that aims to forecast feedbacks between weather/climate and cities. With new synergies between four disciplines (spatial planning, remote sensing, modelling and ground-based observations), city dynamics and human behaviour - including human vulnerability - are incorporated into weather and climate forecasts/projections. Therefore, the focus is on within-city dynamics of peoples' activities and how these can be up-scaled to cities globally.

The urbisphere modelling is informed by data measured with the Smart Urban Observation System (SmUrObs) developed within the project. To undertake modelling, characterization of urban regions (e.g. building form, vegetation, transport routes) is critical, but a massive computational challenge on a global basis. New cloud computing techniques are being developed, and partnerships are brokered to address this (e.g. to ground truth estimated parameters, to identify parameter needs).

Model enhancements to improve local meteorology are being linked to new service applications (e.g. PV panel placement, building overheating and design) with dynamic feedbacks from human behaviour that modify emissions. This allows to link how cities will impact climate change and how the impacts of climate change will influence cities, with two way feedbacks linked to the vulnerable groups impacted and adaptive capacity. The analysis couples urban form (e.g. building structures) and function (e.g. housing, work, recreation), and hence helps understanding of where and when vulnerable people are exposed.

The urbisphere team is led by four Principal Investigators (PIs) based in Germany (Prof. Jörn Birkmann and Prof. Andreas Christen), Greece (Dr. Nektarios Chrysoulakis) and United Kingdom (Prof. Sue Grimmond) who use their expertise to integrate different computational and observational approaches. The new synergies between the four PIs groups allows more integrative future development strategies for cities in a changing climate to be explored. The urbisphere focused cities are Berlin, Paris, Bristol, London, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Heraklion, Nairobi, Beijing, Colombo and Lahore.