Climate change and urban development - can anyone help?

What is the possible or potential impact of climate change on urban development programs (water supply, sanitation, Solid waste management, sewerage, storm water drain etc) other than the design parameters / design uncertainty?


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  • Saif Uddin · Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
    Am not sure if climate change can really have any direct effect on urban development it can be vice cersa. But the other parameters that can be accounted in design is of green building concept. That is something that can help combat negativities of climate change.
  • Kh Md Nahiduzzaman · King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
    It is kind of obvious that climate change do not pose any direct effects on urban development but contemporary thinking although scientific answer lies in specific contexts. The rational planning thinking and practices have been challenged by ongoing effects of climate change. At the indirect-effect spectrum, the entire landuse settings of the cities and rural areas are undergoing changes which requires a holistic and cohesive approach to planning than focusing on certain areas sporadically.
  • David Dickason · Western Michigan University
    Urban "heat islands" have been a marked local version of climate change for some time. The Metromex project of St. Louis, MO, was well instrumented and documented early, for instance. There they were able to show, besides the hotter central core of the city, a petroleum refinery up-wind changed the climate for agriculture down-wind beyond the edge of the city.

    You have some almost unique opportunities in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of setting up sensors to monitor the weather/climate of your respective metro areas, and to detect the ecological systems value of green building designs and environmentally nuanced systems in your area on the temperature and precipitation flux associated with different urban places -- including assessing the value of traditional architectural syles.
  • Kh Md Nahiduzzaman · King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
    One of the root causes of climate driven changes is the not-well-thought behaviour of the end users and their slow response against the ongoing adversities. The inclusion of Climate change phenomenon into education, discussion, research and practices is not quite recent. Yet, the per capita energy consumption, e.g., measured in carbon footprint, of many countries in the world is on the rise or remained steady. Besides investigating on the adverse effects of climate changes, it is equally important to study and address the behavior of the end users in energy consumption at the household level. Also, what would be the best possible ways to build up awareness on less energy consumption by bringing changes in the lifestyles.

    My colleague at the National University of Singapore (NUS) recently completed a study where he tried to understand the best possible ways and means to make people aware on the less energy usages at the household level. In Saudi context, I along with a few colleagues from NUS and University of Barcelona are going to study the user's behaviour in energy consumption. Understandably, this will bring a number issues, notably socio-cultural values and norms, economic status, level of education, perceivable financial/social incentives, etc.
  • Carolina Ojeda · Universidad de Valparaíso (Chile)
    I recently read about a city who really cares about the climate change ( New York is actually working on that, especially in fight again the human and infrastructural cost. I hope this link helps you!
  • Rogerio Maestri · Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
    Dear Rakesh .
    For my answer will have to follow a long path. I'm sorry, but it is inevitable.
    Climate change has always occurred naturally (or currently anthropogenic), please read about or Dansgaard-Oeschger events, or Older Dryas and Younger Dryas stadials and the Little Ice Age. These events recorded during the last glaciation period or later this will probably the heated parts of the earth in extreme cases 8 ° C in 40 years or more commonly 5 ° C for periods of 30 to 40 years (Greenland GRIP/GISP2).
    In dozens of recent studies it is known that they are not restricted to the polar regions. The Dansgaard-Oeschger events are correlated with variations in monsoon, different rates of sediment deposition and other proxies. Voelker 2002 (Global distribution of centennial-scale records for Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3: a database), is located more than 82 sites around the world, in which the signature is present, perhaps not to the same intensity at the poles, but at the same speed (in the case of events with shorter than 250 years).
    Like the last major extinction has occurred since the millennia, we can infer that the Earth and its inhabitants has great capacity to adapt to abrupt climate change. A good review of this adaptability can be seen in: Bradshaw and Holzapfel 2010 (Light Time, and the Physiology of Biotic Rapid Response to Change in Climate Animals). In SUMMARY POINTS there are a delicious remark on the first point, which I will quote in full.
    “1. Animals are not glaciers. The abiotic world responds directly to increasing temperatures as seen by warmer winters, earlier springs, later falls, longer growing seasons, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers. However, the biotic world has responded to recent rapid climate change by expanding ranges poleward and by altering the timing of important events in seasonal life histories, orchestrated principally by light.”
    Latest events of abrupt climate changes occurred when the human species was already on earth, and even with minimal adaptability technology to human species survived.
    One of the secrets of survival is the interconnection of biomes. Isolated populations are sensitive to climate change, but in larger environments, no.
    Now back to the original question, Climate change or abrupt climate changes certainly will impact the urban environments, but like animals, we will have more regional or local responses.
    I think it is possible to establish similarities of the responses of biotic nature, in general, the response to the impact of climate change on urban development. But the answer to urban climate change should not be expected globally, because as even the latest IPCC report (which is extremely pessimistic) is designed differentiated rates in time and space.
    But the answer to urban climate change should not be expected globally, because as even the latest IPCC report (which is extremely pessimistic) is designed differentiated rates in time and space. So any work on the impact of climate s...
  • Luis Inostroza · Technische Universität Dresden
    Animals are not glaciers, sure. But cities are not animals either. Their adaptive capacity is seriously constrained due to their physical-material conditions. Furthermore cities are expanding, thus we can expect that this adaptive capacity is reduced by the expansion process. That´s why the right time to act is now, not tomorrow. Going to the question, I would suggest two approaches: first, it is correct that CC will have mostly a design impact on those development programs. What else? those are "just programs". Here I suggest you to think in the beneficiaries of those programs; including the social dimension. Then the scope and range of the possible impacts will be very much larger. My second suggestion is to think in terms of specific impacts. There are great differences among impacts (more while thinking in social terms). However, this is just a methodological remark to make it easier the identification of possible impacts. Regards!
  • Saif Uddin · Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
    An intresting debate and discussion. But I guess we are not directly adressing rakesh's question: What is the possible or potential impact of climate change on urban development programs (water supply, sanitation, Solid waste management, sewerage, storm water drain etc) other than the design parameters / design uncertainty?
    I have not seen any publication that adresses such concerns. If there are any other might have come across, please share. Urban heat Island is a climatic (micro-climatic) variation bought due to urban development.
  • Perrein Joachim · Independent Researcher
    Cities will have to be adapted to ensure their viability against the news condition ahead caused by climate change, their infrastructure will have to provide more security against the rising chance of natural disaster (those disasters will depend of the situation of the city) and their effects
    heat island will have to be adapted to avoid health problems (righ now in some cities, this already pose problems so with 3 more degree...)
  • David Dickason · Western Michigan University
    Prof. Joachim has excellent points. There is a reflexive interaction both meteorologically and climatologically between cities and climate change. Cities affect micro-climates which in turn affect (presumably) regional and global weather and climate. But weather and climate also affect cities. In the short run, cities must respond to atmospherically induced change. Think New York City adjusting to slightly rising sea levels, relative to protecting its essential subway system. I think the NY Times reported that $20 billion was required to protect the existing system from the highest sea water levels currently anticipated. The city simply could not function as it is now with the subterranean portion of its transport system out of operation. In the longer run, the question is what to do? The market will respond once the direction of change is clear. But if the direction of change is not so clear (or is too clear and too quick for market response), then what concerted response will come from institutions and investors? So what can a NY City do for the long run? Cost-benefit analysis would probably say it is far more expensive to abandon the site and move elsewhere, because many of the site-situation advantages of New York continue for the foreseeable future. Our historical past is always embedded in our present. Myrdal was right -- it is a process of cumulative causation.
  • Saif Uddin · Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
    David yep sea level rise will pose a significant effect on subways etc. the infrastructural development usually take 20 years planning so the sea level rise in 20 years is not going to be significant. I am sure at least sea level rise issues should have been incorporated in planning. In Kuwait we take in consideration the 20, 50 and 100 years sealevel. But we have not seen any significant sea level changes based on the measured data.
  • Sonali Chauhan · Ambedkar University Delhi
    First urban areas experience heat island effect if atmospheric temperature further rise as a consequence of climate change the demand for both electricity and water will rise means designing new infrastructure for energy supply. Second change in rain fall also affect ground water recharge again effect on water supply and access to water. Third changes in climate also affect flora morphology, phenology and increased disease risk. Flora plays a major role in maintaining regional temperature, water cycle and soil fertility. Changed climatic conditions also increase frequency of natural disaster which pose problems to several development programs.
  • Sonali Chauhan · Ambedkar University Delhi
    Another point which i like to highlight is that the question of how climate change affect development programs is not simple. Its a circular loop where each development activity affect local abiotic components of climate and changed conditions can pose unknown threats. The best way is whenever someone planning any development activity there should be an honest effort to know how that particular activity will affect environment that can be used to avoid natural disaster pose by human activity in future and make development a long term sustainable activity. These kind of EIA reports can be helpful in predicting future local climatic trends and then future development process can be designed according to the changed conditions.
  • Saif Uddin · Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
    Sonali with all the issues you are highlighting still how climate change affects urban development is not clear. There are several examples of urban development having local climatic enforcing, but rarely otherwise.
  • Sonali Chauhan · Ambedkar University Delhi
    Sir there are several example of local climate affecting urban development activities but they went unnoticed. I would like to share one small experience which i encountered during my dissertation on delhi ridge. DDA landscape division which looks after development and management of delhi ridge once have to change their whole design and working plan because second round of field survey suggested that some native plant species stopped growing in delhi's changed environment which were integral part of their designing and now they have to update their designs on regular intervals.
  • Claudia Viegas · Federal University of Santa Catarina
    Hi Rakesh, I have not read all above answers totally, therefore I am sorry whether my answer can replicate already mentioned aspects. Climate change has only global models, and they work to an extent of 3 degrees of latitude, according recent research published in Nature - Schiermeier, Q. (2010). The real holes in climate science. Nature, 463(January), 284–287. Regional models are still on their infancy, there are some produced, for instance, by National Instituite for Spacial Research (INPE, Brazil), as far as I know, They are based on river basin and ecosystem behaviour regarding climate variation and hydrological regimes. At local level (cities and neighborhoods), there are several studies based on historical series of average yearly temperatures, ranging from 30 to 80, and even 100 years of data monitoring. However, such type of data and respective analysis are not enough to represent what really happens because in main cases, temperatures are taken in a single point, dismissing local variations inside the same city. It is common the study of heat islands to understand heating phenomenon in cities, but it is also a difficult and expensive work. I suggest you to take a look at local studies, although they cannot be taken as "models" for local climate change - scientifically it is not admitted. I see Land Using and Land Change as main topic of concern in local climatic variation - and it is heavily dependent on Master Plans - how local governments plan other aspects beyond these you mentioned, as: urban mobility model, real estate regulation (to avoid overload green areas), and green belt care - it is not enough to plan green belts, rather than monitor them all the time.
  • Vittorio Ingegnoli · University of Milan
    My researches on Landscape Bionomic (i.e. Biological Integrated Landscape Ecology) demonstrated that the landscape is a living entity, represented by a hyper-complex system. Also an urban landscape is a living entity, therefore it must follow landscape bionomic principles. This is crucial when we have to face both problems of climate change and increasing urban areas.
    In 2006-07 I coordinated at the University of Milan, Department of Biology, a research which goal was to suggest to an international group of architects (D. Libeskind et al.) an ecologically correct master-plan for a new urban district in the central area of Milan. The main ecological criteria were: (a) an urban green available not only to mitigate and compensate the building transformation, but also to activate an ecological network linking Milan with the Ticino River Natural Park; (b) the best ecological configuration of the urban elements of the new district; (c) for a new settlement should be request a balance was very close to 0.00 ° C (i.e. no contribute to UHI).
  • Saif Uddin · Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
    Vittorio very interesting aspect of research you have suggested. But I guess in most developing countries and third world economies the emphasis is on the cost. Hence this concept of sustainability willl be very difficult to adjust in countries where a population of 5 - 10 million people live in a city. As population growth directly adds to CO2 input, thou its contribution to temp rise is not known. So I am not so confident about such green initatives.

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