London's overheating buildings and skyline must adapt to climate change
The University of Reading's Meteorology Department is leading a major new project to help understand how London's existing and new buildings directly affect, and need to adapt to, climate change. One of the University's urban meteorologists has been awarded a £1 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's (EPSRC) Challenging Engineering Programme and will be monitoring and simulating the London climate over the course of the next five years.
(Media-Newswire.com) - The University of Reading's Meteorology Department is leading a major new project to help understand how London's existing and new buildings directly affect, and need to adapt to, climate change.
One of the University's urban meteorologists has been awarded a £1 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's ( EPSRC ) Challenging Engineering Programme and will be monitoring and simulating the London climate over the course of the next five years.
The funding will create the Advanced Climate Technology Urban Atmospheric Laboratory ( ACTUAL ), which will investigate the impact that buildings themselves have on London's changing climate. Results will be integrated directly into engineering and policy areas which impact on urban infrastructure.
Dr. Janet Barlow, the ACTUAL project leader from the University of Reading, said: "Most of the world's population lives in cities, which are already responsible for 80% of the world's carbon emissions. London's energy consumption soared during the 2003 heat wave as offices and public buildings switched on air conditioning systems across the city. Such extreme temperatures are predicted to be a regular occurrence by the 2050s, at which point 70% of our current buildings will still be around. They are not designed to function in what will be the equivalent of the current-day Mediterranean climate."
The initial five year project will use buildings such as the BT Tower to investigate sustainable adaptation of buildings to a warmer London climate. The research will focus on three areas: improving urban climate simulation, assessing the effect of building layout on city ventilation and developing tools to optimise urban renewable energy generation.
One of the projected outcomes is a better understanding of climate-sensitive design for tall buildings, with implications for London's future skyline. Dr Barlow continued: "Our ageing urban infrastructure needs to adapt to withstand the impact of our changing climate, rather than worsening the climate by increasing energy use and carbon emissions. The interaction between climate and buildings is not generally recognised by engineers and planners who are working to transform urban infrastructure, partly because the science on which design standards are based does not incorporate understanding of urban climate. Adaptation of existing and new buildings to sustainably withstand warmer futures needs both legislation and standards – and we will be working to provide the evidence that policy requires."
ACTUAL will collect and analyse data using cutting-edge remote sensing techniques such as lasers and sound pulses to probe the air above the buildings at a distance. It will also be developing new techniques to monitor the impact of buildings on local, urban climate change. The project aims to provide robust, representative climate data for London within 5 years.
Further information from Alex Brannen, Media Relations Manager, on 0118 378 7388
Notes to editors;
Dr Janet Barlow is available on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 September for interview. Please call the press office number above to arrange.
An illustrative image is available: –
"Satellite image showing London's urban heat island: parts of the city ( coloured red and yellow ) are several degrees warmer than the surrounding rural areas ( coloured green )"
The image is from MAPPING LONDON. Credit - Prof. M Wooster & Dr W. Xu ( EMM Research Group, Dept. Geography, King's College London ).
ACTUAL is a collaboration between the University of Reading, the GLA and Arup. It brings together a diverse selection of engineers, meteorologists, local authority policy makers and engineering consultants. A Virtual Urban Environment will be developed ( City-VUE ) to engage schools, the public, policy makers and engineers in the project and will become a key resource for engineers to underpin sustainable transformation of other aspects of urban infrastructure into the 21st century.
The Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading was established in 1965 and is internationally renowned for its excellent teaching and research in atmospheric, oceanic and climate science. It is the only UK university which offers a full range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in meteorology. In 2006, Meteorology at Reading was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ( EPSRC ) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests more than £575 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.
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