City planners can access unique tools for adaptation to climate change. Researchers at SMHI, along with other European partners, are now developing solutions that make it possible to create individual scenarios in each city for flooding and air pollution, for example.
Many cities already need to start the process of adapting to climate change. According to most scenarios, the effects may be clear from around the middle of the century and onwards, with, for example, more extreme rain, flooding and air pollution. At the same time, there is huge uncertainty regarding the climate trend that, in many instances, makes it difficult to plan for the future.
An extensive European partnership project will gradually offer help along the way. With new tools, city planners, for instance, will be able to create their own scenarios and case studies as the basis for making decisions on action to be taken.
Easy-to-understand and interactive web format
“We need to develop a unique system in which we can simulate various scenarios of events to see how this affects different areas of society,” says Lars Gidhagen, researcher at SMHI and head of the project.
“However, it is a challenging task to link so many different types of data and complicated calculation models into one system that is able to present information in a pedagogical and easy-to-understand way. The project will develop an interactive web interface with advanced data presentation that is, in part, three-dimensional.”
The project has been given the name Sudplan, Sustainable Urban Development Planner for Climate Change Adaptation. Researchers from SMHI will spend three years working together with environmental managers, IT specialists and experts in visualisation from various European countries.
Large-scale model calculations related to climate and environmental issues will be made available. It will also be possible for the relevant city authorities to use own local data to improve the quality of their climate scenarios.
Air quality, rain and migration patterns
The project also includes showing how Sudplan can give four selected cities information on important climate problems. In Stockholm, the focus is on air quality, and users will be able to assess how climate change will affect future air pollution levels.
In Wuppertal, Germany, the project will work on a broad range of issues regarding stormwater flooding, for example assessing which areas are most vulnerable in the event of extreme rain. Other aims will be to see what action can remedy the problems of local inundations.
For Linz, in Austria, the project is focused on the water and sewage network and how this will be affected by storms and extreme rain.
In the area around Prague, studies will look into how climate change will affect the population’s migration patterns and how the landscape will be changed as a result of changes in precipitation and air quality.
“Although our knowledge of the climate in the future comes from our large-scale climate models, it is important in many respects to allow local knowledge and requirements to govern the design of urban planning tools. “In this way, the information will be relevant to decision-makers at a local level,” concludes Lars.