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Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy (CURE)
Part of the School of Environment, Education and Development

Sustainable Cities: Options for Responding to Climate cHange Impacts and Outcomes (SCORCHIO)

Work on the project began in March 2007 and research will be ongoing until the end of September 2010.

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Urban areas are already remarkable concentrations of climate vulnerability and projected rates of urban growth mean that vulnerability will increase at the same time as the impacts of climate change become increasingly manifest. Actions by planners, designers and infrastructure owners are required in the short term if cities are to avoid becoming ever more vulnerable in the long term. These are already urgent problems. The 2003 heat wave was considered responsible for 14,802 and 2,045 excess deaths in France and England and Wales respectively. Many of these deaths, occurred in buildings in urban, city areas and with such heat waves becoming more common with global warming, more deaths may occur. The summer of 2003, for example, is expected to become `typical' by the 2040s. Considerable progress has been made in understanding the potential impacts of climate change, combined with socio-economic change in urban areas. Research for the Greater London Authority identified heat as amongst the most pressing priorities, amongst a host of other potential impacts of climate change in London. Heat, is the focus of SCORCHIO.

Cities are complex and whilst impacts studies have been able to calculate the aggregate impacts of climate change, understanding where key vulnerabilities lie is much less advanced in scientific terms. Neither the effects of the urban landscape nor the heat released by human activities within cities are considered in standard climate change projections, but these have been shown to be potentially very significant. Furthermore, the science and practice of adaptation of the built environment to climate change is still in its infancy. For climate change adaptation strategies to be developed for cities and regions in the UK, there is therefore an urgent need for decision support tools to appraise and design adaptation options. The rationale behind this project is that successful adaptation requires good impact assessment tools for adaptation appraisal of the urban and city environments under a range of climate scenarios.