UCAM: Urban Climate Assessment & Management

Until recently, no effective method was available for mapping the Urban Heat Island effect in cities. The Meteorology & Air Quality Group at Wageningen University & Research Centre has joined forces with Witteveen+Bos and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) to develop a way to analyse the risks posed by heat waves, down to the level of an individual city district. For the first time, the resulting method will enable the implementation of targeted local measures to manage heat stress.

It is becoming increasingly clear that global warming affects not only the natural world, but also our day-to-day lives. Mortality rates increase during heat waves, particularly among vulnerable groups like the elderly. The 2003 European heat wave, for instance, is estimated to have caused some 45,000 additional heat-related deaths. It is likely that heat waves will increase in number, intensity and duration in the coming years. The impact of heat waves is greater in urban environments than in rural areas. Air pollution also plays a role in this respect, as heat waves have a detrimental effect on air quality. It is therefore essential to develop a reliable method for quantifying all the different effects of heat waves, so that appropriate measures can be taken based on the results. That method is now available.

Urban Climate Assessment & Management (UCAM) examines the impact of urban environments on heat-related health risks. Besides an objective analysis of risks, the method also offers a sound basis for assessing the seriousness of these risks. UCAM also provides insight into possible urban planning solutions and their effects. This concerns more than just existing buildings and structures: the UCAM method can also be used effectively in newbuild projects to help manage heat stress.