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European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article24 August 2022European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency

Helping cities adapt to higher temperatures

The team behind LIFE ASTI designed a set of urban heat island (UHI) forecasting systems to help three Mediterranean cities cope when the heat is on.

LIFE17 CCA/GR/000108
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Temperatures in cities are several degrees higher than in the countryside. This is because urban areas have more buildings, cars and asphalt but tend to lack greenery and water areas. This so-called UHI effect was never more evident this summer when some European capitals had record temperatures. UHI can cause heat-related deaths, especially among the elderly and other vulnerable groups. It also increases energy consumption, worsens air quality and has a negative economic impact.

The LIFE ASTI project examined the UHI effect and its impact on human health. The team developed a set of modelling systems for UHI's short-term prediction and future projection in Thessaloniki and Heraklion in Greece and Rome, Italy.

They set up a network of weather stations to monitor UHI intensity – this is the difference in temperature between the city centre's urban environment and its rural surrounding.

They also developed a high-resolution forecasting model and heat health warning systems to improve heat adaptation and the public health response to heat waves. The model provides three-day forecasts of UHI intensity, apparent temperature, the universal climate index and the discomfort index.

A mobile application provides easy access to information produced by the project's forecasting system. The app lets users see a short-term forecast and future temperature projection in the three target cities.

The team built a network of key climate adaptation stakeholders and held various roundtables, training sessions and working groups, bringing together local authorities and policymakers.

The results from ASTI help policymakers design better urban climate adaptation plans to protect human health and the environment. Also, the project's tools support local authorities in planning their urban adaptation plans in an ever-changing climate.

The approach can be followed by other European urban areas wanting to cope with the UHI effect.

In fact, the municipalities of Pavlos Melas in Greece and Civitavecchia in Italy are replication cases.

LIFE ASTI supports the EU Adaptation Strategy, which sets out how the EU can adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change and become climate resilient by 2050.