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Heat waves in cities getting worse under climate change

Heat waves in cities getting worse under climate change

The effects of climate change are being felt all over the world but towns and cities are feeling most hot-under-the collar, a new study finds.

Cities are usually warmer than their surroundings due to the urban heat island effect where artificial surfaces absorb more heat than their natural counterparts. Coupled with the loss of the shady effects of trees, urban areas regularly record the hottest temperatures around.

However a study by Dr Hendrik Wouters and colleagues from KU Leuven in Belgium has found that cities are getting even hotter from the effects of climate change with an increase in heat-waves.

Heat-waves are periods of time where temperatures exceed the ‘normal’ high levels. These events are already problematic in urban areas causing power surges, excessive hospitalisations and even deaths.

Wouters and colleagues have investigated how much worse this problem is likely to get as extreme weather events become more common.

Speaking at a press conference at the EGU 2017 General Assembly on 25th April, Wouters said ‘we look at how much temperature levels are exceeding during heat waves‘. Using the expected average temperatures, the climatologists can calculate a threshold of ‘normal’ temperatures and then quantify how often these values are exceeded.

This information was gathered for the whole of Belgium over the 34 years prior to 2015. In rural areas this ‘alarm’ threshold was exceeded at least twice. In urban areas the heat-stress was considerably higher- up to 16 exceedances. Overall, heat-stress was twice as large in cities for the mid 21st century.

Cities (red) show much higher annual degree exceedances than rural areas (green). These exceedances are set increase into the future. (Wouters et al., EGU 2017).

In order to anticipate how much worse this problem might get, the group have modelled heat-stress events for the next 58 years. Wouters was keen to highlight that the severity and frequency of the events is dependent on many factors: ‘There is not only one scenario for the future, it depends on how many greenhouse gases we emit and how much land change will evolve in the future.’

In an extreme scenario, where greenhouse gas emissions and urban growth increase, as many as 25 days in a year could exceed alarm levels by up to 10 degrees celsius. However, if we start to reduce our emissions, the heat-stress problem is likely to stay at current levels.

By Keri McNamara, EGU 2017 General Assembly Press Assistant

Communicate your Science Video Competition finalists 2017: time to get voting!

Communicate your Science Video Competition finalists 2017: time to get voting!

For the fourth year in a row we’re running the EGU Communicate Your Science Video Competition – the aim being for early career scientists to communicate their research in a short, sweet and public-friendly video. Our judges have now selected 4 fantastic finalists from the excellent entries we received this year and it’s time to find the best geoscience communication clip!

The shortlisted videos will be open to a public vote from now until midnight on 27 April; – just ‘like’ the video on YouTube to give it your seal of approval. The video with the most likes when voting closes will be awarded a free registration to the EGU General Assembly 2018.

The finalists are shown below, but you can also catch them in this finalist playlist and even take a seat in GeoCinema – the home of geoscience films at the General Assembly – to see the shortlist and select your favourite.

Please note that only positive votes will be taken into account.

What sounds are in space by Martin Archer. Like this video to vote for it.

Soil moisture and GNSS Explained by Tzvetan Simeonov. Is this your favourite video? Like to vote for it.

Lost rivers by Elisha Teo. If this is your favourite then vote for it here!

A tale of water kidneys and flying doctors by Valentin Heimhuber. Like this video to vote for it!

If watching these videos has inspired you to try your hand at using videos to communicate your research to the public, but you aren’t sure where to start & how to finance the whole enterprise, then why not come along to the finding funding for your science film short course during the 2017 General Assembly? Professional outreach and science filmmakers Dan Brinkhuis (Science Media.nl) and Saskia Medler (77th Parallel Productions) will take you through three different outreach video projects and funding scenarios of varying qualities and their associated costs. They will also give insights on whether the investments paid off by assessing the success of each film in terms of how many views, likes, or even awards they garnered, or how much publicity they generated. Join us in the GeoCinema room (0.90, Yellow Level) on Wednesday the 26th April from 10:30am (CET) onward.

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 23 to 28 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

EGU 2017 General Assembly programme is now online!

EGU 2017: Registration open & townhall and splinter meeting requests

The EGU General Assembly 2017 programme is available here. Take a look and – if you haven’t already – register for the conference by 16 March to make the early registration rates!

Last year, we updated the scientific programme of the General Assemby and it includes Union-wide Sessions, such as Special Scientific Events (Medal Lectures, Great Debates and many more) short courses and topical meetings, feedback and networking events and outreach, education and media sessions, to name a few.  The Disciplinary Sessions, encompass the oral, poster and PICO sessions covering the full spectrum of the Earth, planetary and space sciences.

There are several ways to access the programme, so you can explore the sessions with ease:

  • Browse by day & time: view the oral, poster and PICO sessions by their time and location, each sorted chronologically by conference day, time block and programme group
  • Browse by session: view the scientific sessions and their oral, poster and PICO sub-sessions by programme group
  • Personal programme: a great tool to generate your own personal programme, just select the specific presentations or sessions you’re interested in to create your own personal schedule
  • Sessions of ECS interest: this is a list of sessions of particular interest for early career scientists
  • Papers of special interest: take a look at the abstracts that were selected by their respective session conveners to be of interest to the press, media and the public

Want more ways to browse the programme? We’ll be releasing the EGU 2017 mobile app closer to the conference, stay tuned!

We look forward to seeing you in Vienna for the General Assembly (23 – 28 April 2017).

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