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IAS Fellows’ Lecture – Adaptation to urban heat, air and noise pollution

November 2, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Image courtesy of Alex Presa on Unsplash

Public lecture by Professor Uwe Schlink, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

Triggered by global warming, cities are increasingly suffering from heat. Urban design and green infrastructure affect heat as well as air and noise pollution. The urban environment is perceived by each individual, who in turn can influence personal exposure through their behaviour. Climate adaptation can be achieved in the long term through changes in urban structure and in the short term through people’s protective behaviour.

Urban features affect the surface energy balance at the microscale (a few meters) through four biophysical processes (radiation, reduced evapotranspiration, reduced ventilation, and heat storage). This talk by Professor Schlink will discuss how these processes evolve and interact over the course of a day, ultimately leading to temperature distributions that are highly diverse in space and time. Using these four processes, he will discuss new techniques for heat mitigation. For sustainable adaptation to global warming conditions, he proposes a framework for developing and evaluating local and tailored actions and trade-offs. His approach is illustrated with practical examples of heat adaptation. He will also highlight the limitations of heat mitigation through land use change.

Short-term protection from urban environmental stressors can be achieved through adaptive behaviour of people. To investigate how feedback on exposure can motivate individuals to change their behaviour, he (and his collaborators) have equipped volunteers moving in urban areas with wearable sensors that record their exposure to heat, air quality, and noise. Combined with smartphone applications, the wearables provide feedback to the carrying persons on their level of exposure and can suggest alternative routes with lower environmental burden. As a result of this intervention study, he discusses the behavioural changes that can be attributed to the wearables’ feedback.

This discussion of urban adaptation highlights the need to implement strategies at multiple scales, from the city level to the individual level.

This lecture is free and open to all. Registration is not required to attend in person. 


November 2, 2022
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
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