A new weather forecasting model will help plan urban spaces in anticipation of the climate change effects


The Global Change Unit of the University of Valencia will contribute to the development of the next generation of urban climate services based on advanced weather forecasting models. The project, which has the collaboration of the Valencia City Council, will allow cities to adapt to the changing conditions of global warming. Nine partners from six countries make up the consortium that works for this purpose under the umbrella of the European CityCLIM project (H2020). The professor of Earth Physics José Antonio Sobrino, a researcher at the Image Processing Laboratory (IPL) of the UV, leads the Spanish participation in the project.

The metropolitan areas of Europe suffer more and more from the effects of climate change. Prolonged, frequent and intense heat waves, especially in urban centres, pose a threat to the environment and the health of the population. Counteracting these effects requires not only understanding their causes, but also designing adaptation strategies to the changing climatic conditions that prevail on the planet as a consequence of global warming.

In this sense, the ‘CityCLIM project. Next Generation City Climate Services Using Advanced Weather Models and Emerging Data Sources’, within the European framework of the Horizon 2020 program, through the action Developing end-user products and services for all stakeholders and citizens supporting climate adaptation and mitigation.

The project aims to develop an open platform and urban weather forecasting tool to run a high resolution weather model (100m x 100m) for various cities in Europe, using various input data sources, such as in situ measurements or aerial and satellite data. The resulting high-resolution forecasting and information tool will be used to provide near-real-time warnings to the city and its citizens, as well as to develop impact maps of different mitigation scenarios that can be applied in urban areas. These maps can be compared between the mitigation measures selected by the user and the degree of change – for example, increase in green area by 50% or in albedo by 20% –. The results of these forecasts and simulations will be made available to the public through a set of climate services in the city.

Currently, work is focused on the development of a series of advanced weather forecasting models that optimise data from existing satellite sources, emerging sources and sources still in the concept phase. They are fundamentally data generated by Copernicus, the European Union Earth Observation Program, and related to the properties of the earth’s surface, geometry or atmospheric properties, such as temperature, pressure and relative humidity of the air, among others. As a singular source, the project incorporates data from citizen science for climate monitoring into the research. For this, it has the collaboration of 4 pilot zones that address various climatic regions of Europe – Luxembourg, Central Macedonia Region / Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area, the city of Valencia and the city of Karlsruhe. These will define the requirements for the tools to be developed, support the specification and testing of services, and serve as demonstrators of the selected approaches and technologies developed.

The work proposes developing a virtual platform that will provide specific meteorological and climate services for metropolitan areas, based on these advanced models currently under development by the scientific-business consortium. “Unlike conventional forecasting models, whose resolution is usually several kilometres, the new model will have a 100m x 100m resolution, so that it can offer relevant results to support adaptation to climate change”, says José Antonio Sobrino, Professor of Earth Physics, head of the Global Change Unit and leader of the Spanish participation in CityCLIM.

In another line of services, the platform will offer a system, specific for municipalities and other institutions, aimed at examining the effect of urban planning measures in response to climate change. In this context, for example, the analysis of the impact of green spaces and water bodies on the metropolitan climate is contemplated. In addition, the project plans to establish a generic framework for the construction of the next generation of urban climate services.

Executed by a consortium of companies, institutions and scientific teams from six countries – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Greece and Spain – CityCLIM is coordinated by OHB System AG, a subsidiary of the aerospace and technology group OHB SE. The Global Change Unit of the University of Valencia leads the Spanish participation in this three-year project.

The consortium is made up of OHB Digital Solutions (Austria), the Institut für Angewandte Systemtechnik Bremen GmbH, Meteologix AG (Germany), the University of Valencia (Spain), the Helmholtz-Zentrum fur Umweltforschung GmbH-UFZ (Germany), CLT UFA (Luxembourg), Region of Central Macedonia (Greece), Ajuntament de València (Spain) and Stadt Karlsrhe (Germany).