Hidden climate change - urban meteorology and the scales of real weather

Vladimir Janković, Michael Hebbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the scale at which the weather is experienced and modified by human activities in urban environment. The climates of built-up areas differ from their non-urban counterparts in many aspect: wind-flows, radiation, humidity, precipitation and air quality all change in the presence of human settlement, transforming each city into a singularity within its regional weather system. Yet this pervasive category of anthropogenic climate change has always tended to be hidden and difficult to discern. The paper first describes the sequence of discovery of the urban heat island since the early nineteenth century, and the emergence and consolidation of a scientific field devoted to the climatology of cities. This is followed by a discussion of various attempts to apply knowledge of climatic factors to the design and management of settlement. We find that real-world application of urban climatology has met with limited success. However, the conclusion suggests that global climate change gives a new visibility and practical relevance to urban-scale climate science. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages10
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • urban heat island, urban climatology, climate policy, urban environments


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