The Bochum urban climate lab investigates the climate system and its links to human activities. In particular, we investigate local and microscale effects in urban environments. Our research focuses on remote sensing of urban climates, characterisation of urban structures and modelling, crowd sourcing and smart city as well as applied urban climatology and climate adaptation. The results from our research improve understanding of urban climates and driving factors globally and support transforming metropolitan areas towards resilience and sustainability.
Cities are both the main drivers of global environmental changes and particularly vulnerable to its consequences such as sea-level rise or stronger heat waves. It is necessary to observe urban climates in situ and remotely, to understand and model the underlying processes, and to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies. Our research has four focus areas.
Thermal time series and annual temperature cycle analysis enable long-term analysis of the land surface temperature (LST) and allow a robust estimate of LST climatology for statistical downscaling and trend analysis. This represents a new paradigm for surface urban heat island analysis and allows the analysis of the meso-scale driving factors.
Another part of our research focuses on building a global database of form and function of cities. Understanding complex meso- and micro-scale thermal and dynamic urban canopy processes requires knowledge on internal structure, materials and functions of cities, which is often missing or incomplete. A method to quickly derive much information about the urban structure is local climate zone mapping, developed in the open software SAGA and expanded to Google's Earth Engine. The resulting datasets have successfully been applied in different neighbourhood- and meso-scale energy balance and weather/climate models such as TARGET, SUEWS, WRF and COSMO-CLM, allowing us to better quantify and understand the impact (interaction) of (between) external parameter settings and model formulations on the modeled urban energy balance components.
The third focus is observation of air pollution and urban environments by crowdsourcing and urban climate informatics. As urban regions face multiple environmental challenges, sufficient data is the key for a good analysis of the quality of life and health. While official station networks exist for relevant stressors (air pollution, noise, weather), their spatiotemporal variance hinders sufficient observation. Mobile methods enable better spatial coverage, whereby the number of sensors and thus simultaneous measurements are still limited. Crowdsourcing, in combination with big data sources and artificial intelligence, is an interesting addition to this approach and has great potential for urban climatology.
The integration of scientific findings into urban development and planning practice is another important aspect of our research. Existing planning procedures lack both innovative approaches and adequate knowledge to integrate effective climate change adaptation measures into planning and construction practice. The impacts of climate change give a special importance to adaptation measures in order to ensure that all regions in Europe are becoming more resilient. The practical implementation of adaptation measures mainly takes place at the regional and local levels, particularly in urban environments. In that respect our focus lays on working with responsible planners, architects, politically and economically important decision makers as well as other planning and process relevant professionals.