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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Weapon To Fight Climate Change

flood disaster
Facing climate change, eight European Union countries have created a tool that aims to help cities to adapt to the impacts of climate change called grabs. The tool they use involves several important parameters such as the percentage of land covered with buildings, roads, impervious surfaces, and trees, vegetation, rivers and lakes.

This tool was developed by experts from the University of Manchester and The Mersey Forest, will provide important information to assist urban neighborhoods to avoid the potentially harmful effects of climate change. The plan will be launched online this month. Thus, it will enable planners, policy makers, local communities and developers to assess whether the new buildings and roads will create intolerably hot environment or more likely to suffer from flooding.

In addition, the city will also have the ability to to assess how green infrastructure - such as trees, vegetation, rivers and lakes - can help the environment adapt to climate change by cooling the surface temperature and reduces runoff.

Heat waves, river and surface water and flooding has become a major threat to many cities that have not adapted to extreme weather events, argues Dr. Gina Cavan, of the University Center for Urban Regional Ecology (CURE).

In one instance, a lot than 52,000 lives were lost during the European summer heat wave of 2003 were in urban areas, which is warmer than the surrounding area, partly as a result of there being less cooling vegetation.

This tool is called STAR, produces temperature and runoff scenarios based on parameters entered by the user within a defined study area.

Led by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), GRABS works with local authorities to raise awareness and devise responses to the impact of climate change.

“City authorities cannot afford to ignore the environmental impact of land use if they are to adapt to the potentially dangerous effects of climate change,” said Dr Cavan.

"Greening the city is not just about coping with climate change, but also has health, social and economic benefits too.

“Even if the rise in CO2 emissions were stopped tomorrow, extreme surface temperatures and endemic flooding will be an increasing problem in cities by the middle of this century unless something is done.

“But cities can lessen these threats by increasing the amount of their green infrastructure and the data produced by the STAR tool will help them do that.”

The tool will also help local communities develop their own neighbourhood plans under the Government’s localism agenda and help them ensure the right development happens in the right places.

Developers could also use the tool to test their own development proposals’ green credentials.

Dr Susannah Gill is from The Mersey Forest and is also a honorary research fellow at The University of Manchester.

She added: “This tool is best used at a neighbourhood scale.

“It tests the impact of different land cover scenarios of greening and development on surface temperatures and runoff under different temperature and precipitation conditions.

“The tool can be used for any area within the UK, though users in North West England are given up to date data on current land use and future climate change projections.”

This article has edited by authors of threelas
Source: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=7914

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