Launch of international urban climate observation site in DIT
An international urban climate observation site which will establish DIT as an international benchmark for urban climate and environmental measurements was launched recently in DIT Kevin St. The urban monitoring site, which represents collaboration between DIT, Kevin Street, UCD, NUIM and LiCOR Biosciences, was established to monitor a suite of climate and environmental variables in an urban environment. The associated instruments measure net radiation (solar and terrestrial), wind velocity in three dimensions (u, v and w), air temperature, humidity, the turbulent fluxes of sensible heat (H) and latent (LE), and atmosphere concentrations of CO2 and H2O. The facility, one of only a handful in of similar installations in the world, will make precise measurements of the atmosphere as modified by the city and is located on the roof of DIT, Kevin Street, in the heart of Dublin city. Observations at 10Hz will measure the ‘pulse’ of human activity in the city. Moreover and with respect to recent measurements of C02 emissions, the “heartbeat” of Dublin is clearly visible with observations indicating morning peaks correlating with peak rush hour followed by drops in C02 resulting from subsequent C02 consumption by trees evident in the early afternoon.
The research currently has four streams:
- Local Climate Zones (Paul Alexander, NUIM & UCD),
- Observations within the urban environment (Stephanie Keogh, NUIM & UCD),
- (Electrical Engineering) Application (Keith Sunderland, DIT & UCD)) and
- Modelling (Paul Alexander, NUIM & UCD).
Urban areas have been identified as one of the key contributors to increasing global atmospheric concentrations of CO2, yet understanding of the urban sources and potential sinks of CO2 remains relatively limited. This new urban monitoring site, only one of a handful of such sites internationally, will contribute to furthering the understanding of the complex relationship between urban areas and global climate change. The work will also directly contribute to the international research effort to measure energy balance and CO2 fluxes in the urban environment.
Health scientists will also be interested in the monitoring site from the perspective of how the layout of cities can impact the health of city dwellers. With urbanisation on the rise across the globe – more than half of the world's population now live in cities according to the UN – such city labs will become more relevant for the scientific communities globally. Putting this in context, between now and 2050, the UN is predicting that the world's population will increase by 2.3bn, passing from 7.0bn to 9.3bn and the population living in urban areas is predicted to rise by 2.6bn, passing from 3.6bn in 2011 to 6.3bn in 2050.
Dr. Rowan Fealy, NUIM, further added that “this site will not alone enable us to examine the influence of climate change on cities, but critically, the influence of cities on climate change”. Long term datasets from sites such as this one in Kevin street will be important for parameterising and validating urban climate models worldwide, in addition to providing urban dwellers and policy makers with local-scale, high-resolution climate information.
Keith Sunderland, DIT PhD researcher (supervised by Dr. Michael Conlon, DIT and Dr. Gerald Mills, UCD) is investigating the potential for urban micro generation in context with Distribution Network parameters. The newly installed sonic anemometer on the roof of Kevin St. is one of a network of three similar anemometers across Dublin city and Keith is using the associated data to validate a wind energy mapping/modelling as the input to an urban Distribution Network model. Furthermore, from an application perspective, the monitoring site will also facilitate the exploration of other specific and general urban issues. The data collected will be relevant planning bodies, such as Dublin City Council where wind pressures on buildings and improving urban design are priority concerns.
The launch coincided with the International Conference on Urban Climate – ICUC 8 and 10th Symposium on the Urban Environment (www.icuc8.org), which was held at UCD. Conference delegates as well as some of the top scientists in the field were in attendance when the proceedings were formally brought underway by Dr. Michael Conlon. Speaking at the launch Dr. Gerald Mills, UCD, said that “this new monitoring site, which represents a contribution to the international research effort to understand urban climates, will provide an essential platform for both national and international scientists to come to Dublin and study the important nature of CO2 emissions arising from an urban landscape”.
For more information on this project contact Keith Sunderland.