Urban Climate Lab logo

Projects. A complete list of everything we're up to.

Urban Heat Management Plan for Louisville Metro

The urban heat island effect in Louisville, KY, has increased more rapidly than any other US city since the 1960's, and how the region grows and develops could be driving that excessive heat. We are developing a comprehensive heat management assessment and plan for the Louisville metropolitan area to safeguard the public's health from elevated temperatures. We plan to map the spatial extent and structure of the Louisville Metro's heat island, model the effectiveness of specific management strategies, including extensive tree planting, and develop a heat management plan to coordinate policies across metro agencies charged with land use and sustainability planning. The project tasks of land cover assessment, surface temperature estimation (hot spot mapping), heat modeling scenario development, air temperature estimation, and population vulnerability assessment, constitute the heat management plan. The resulting plan will be the first urban heat adaptation plan developed for a major US city.

People
Dr. Brian Stone, Dr. Ted Russell, Dr. BumSeok Chun, Dr. Jason Vargo, Dr. Marcus Trail, Kevin Lanza

Media:
Urban Climate Lab hired to lead Louisville's urban-heat study. Click here to read the article.

UCL climate trends data featured in article on Louisville as fastest warming city in US. Click here to read the article.


Georgia Tech Climate Network

The physical context of the Georgia Institute of Technology campus is changing. In response to both global and local scale climate change, temperatures in the Atlanta region have been rising more rapidly than in previous decades. An analysis of urban and proximate rural temperature trends in major US cities finds Atlanta to be the third most rapidly warming metropolitan region in the country. With an increase in the incidence of extreme heat during the warm season, and higher temperatures generally throughout the year, the Georgia Tech campus and population is increasingly vulnerable to a growing range of health, outdoor comfort, and infrastructure-related impacts. More effective monitoring of climate trends on campus, in concert with climate-responsive design strategies, can lessen both the human impacts and infrastructure costs of rising temperatures.

In response to these trends, the Georgia Institute of Technology's Urban Climate Lab has established a dense network of temperature and relative humidity sensors throughout the campus to identify the location of hot spots, measure the impact of ongoing development on micro-climatic conditions, and assess how the use of vegetation and cool materials around campus can moderate warming trends. The network consists of 24 HOBO sensors across the entire campus, representing many micro-climatic conditions including both 3-meter and rooftop locations. Several sensors are located in areas scheduled to transition from impervious surfaces to green space, and will therefore record the impact of these changes on climate. This study is the first of its kind for a US university and lays the groundwork for the establishment of a more extensive network across the Atlanta metropolitan region.

People
Dr. Brian Stone, Evan Mallen, Kevin Lanza


Tree Hardiness Zones

Hardiness zones, defined as the average annual minimum temperature in which a plant can grow, are the current standard for arborists and gardeners to guide tree selection. Urban trees provide a myriad of services, including the ability to effectively mitigate the urban heat island effect through shading and evapotranspiration. With anthropogenic warming, hardiness zones are shifting northward over time, causing tree species to lose adaptation to parts of their historical range. As temperatures rise, some species of tree will no longer remain adapted to their urban settings. For the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), we are determining decadal hardiness zone shifts and how the associated changes in tree species distribution influence urban tree selection. Our ultimate goal is to assist cities in selecting suitable trees for changing climatic conditions.

People
Dr. Brian Stone, Kevin Lanza


CULE

CULE (Climate, Urban, Land use, and E xcess mortality) is a project assessing the potential for climate-responsive design strategies to mitigate the heat-related health impacts of climate change in large US cities over a multi-decadal planning horizon. Specifically, this project will model the influence of alternative land development scenarios on temperature change in three major metropolitan areas of the United States between 2010 and 2050 and quantify the effects of each scenario on public health outcomes related to two classes of heat-related exposure: high levels of ambient heat and intensified concentrations of air pollution.

People
Dr. Brian Stone, Dr. Ted Russell, Dr. Anthony DeLucia, Dr. Jason Vargo, Dana Habeeb

Publications and Media:
Differences Between Downscaling with Spectral and Grid Nudging Using WRF.
Peng, Liu, Tsimpidi, Alexandra, Hu, Youngtao, Stone, Brian, Russell, Armistead & Nenes, Athanasios. 2012. Differences Between Downscaling with Spectral and Grid Nudging Using WRF. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 12: 3601–3610.

The Importance of Land Cover Change Across Urban Rural Typologies for Climate Modeling.
Vargo, Jason, Habeeb, Dana & Stone, Brian Jr. 2013. The Importance of Land Cover Change Across Urban Rural Typologies for Climate Modeling. Journal of Environmental Management, 114: 243–252.

Avoided Heat-Related Mortality through Climate Adaptation Strategies in Three US Cities.
Stone, Brian Jr., Vargo, Jason, Liu, Peng, Habeeb, Dana, DeLucia, Anthony, Trail, Marcus, Hu, Yongtao, & Russell, Armistead. 2014. Avoided Heat-Related Mortality through Climate Adaptation Strategies in Three US Cities. PLOS ONE, 9(6): 1–8.

UCL study finds suburbs to be heating up Atlanta. Click here to read the article.


CULE-R

CULE-R (Climate, Urban, Land use, and Excess mortality - Retrospective) seeks to build upon findings of the association between urban form and enhanced exposure to extreme heat and air pollution through an assessment of excess mortality in sprawling and compact cities. Specifically, we seek to test the following three study hypotheses:

  1. Sprawling cities have experienced a higher rate of excess mortality associated with extreme heat events over the last 25 years than compact cities;
  2. Sprawling cities have experienced a higher rate of excess mortality associated with exceedances of national health-based standards for O3 and PM2.5 over the last 25 years than compact cities;
  3. Sprawling cities have experienced a higher rate of excess mortality associated with climate-enhanced air pollution episodes over the last 25 years than compact cities.

People
Dr. Brian Stone, Dr. Tegan Boehmer, Dr. Fuyuen Yip, Dr. Jason Vargo, Dana Habeeb


Urban Climate Change

Urban Climate Change

How rapidly are large cities in the United States warming? This question is important for two reasons. First, extreme temperatures are responsible for more annual fatalities than all other forms of extreme weather combined, including earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. In a warming world, the public health threats of extreme heat are expected to intensify. Second, annual analyses of mean global temperature change omit urban weather station data, as urban temperature trends are known to reflect both background warming rates and localized warming anomalies, such as the urban heat island effect. As a result, global estimates of climate change are likely to underestimate rates of warming in the very places where most of the global population now resides: cities.

Through this study, we analyzed more than five decades of meteorological observations recorded by weather stations located within and in proximity to 50 of the most populous U.S. cities to measure the rate of change in "urban heat island" intensity - localized hotspots created by urban infrastructure and waste heat emissions - in each decade between 1951 and 2006.

The results of this analysis suggest that the actual magnitude of warming in urban areas is likely to be much greater than that forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greatly elevating the need for climate-responsive design strategies to counteract the enhanced impacts of warming in large cities.

People
Dr. Brian Stone

Publications:
Urban and Rural Temperature Trends in Proximity to Large U.S. Cities. ”
Stone, Brian Jr. 2007. Urban and Rural Temperature Trends in Proximity to Large U.S. Cities: 1951–2000. International Journal of Climatology, 27: 1801–1807.

Land Use as Climate Change Mitigation. ”
Stone, Brian Jr. 2009. Land Use as Climate Change Mitigation. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(24): 9052–9056.

Managing Climate Change in Cities: Will Climate Action Plans Work?
Stone, Brian Jr., Vargo, Jason, & Habeeb, Dana. 2012. Managing Climate Change in Cities: Will Climate Action Plans Work? Landscape and Urban Planning, 107(3): 263–271.


PLUTO

PLUTO

Project PLUTO (Projecting the Effect of Land Use and Transportation on Future Air Quality) is an EPA funded study designed to investigate the impact of regional land use patterns on air quality throughout the upper Midwestern United States. The principal goal of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of "smart growth" land use policies in combating ozone formation and fine particulate air pollution between today and 2050. Through the integration of travel survey data with a set of mobile source emissions and air chemistry models, we will assess the influence of regional land use and technology change scenarios, coupled with ongoing changes in climate, on air quality throughout the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Project PLUTO is the first study to evaluate the potential for smart growth land use strategies to improve regional air quality over time and in comparison with conventional technological strategies, such as power plant scrubbers and hybrid vehicles.

People
Dr. Brian Stone, Dr. Tracey Holloway, Adam Mednick, Scot Spak

Publications:
Is Compact Growth Good for Air Quality?. ”
Stone, Brian Jr., Mednick, Adam, Holloway, Tracey, and Spak, Scott. 2007. Is Compact Growth Good for Air Quality?, in Journal of the American Planning Association, 73, 404–418.

Mobile Source CO2 Mitigation through Smart Growth Development and Vehicle Fleet Hybridization. ”
Stone, Brian Jr., Mednick, Adam, Holloway, Tracey, and Spak, Scott. 2009. Mobile Source CO2 Mitigation through Smart Growth Development and Vehicle Fleet Hybridization, Environmental Science and Technology, 43: 1704–1710.