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Local Climate Zones for Urban Temperature Studies

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  • 1 Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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The effect of urban development on local thermal climate is widely documented in scientific literature. Observations of urban–rural air temperature differences—or urban heat islands (UHIs)—have been reported for cities and regions worldwide, often with local field sites that are extremely diverse in their physical and climatological characteristics. These sites are usually described only as “urban” or “rural,” leaving much uncertainty about the actual exposure and land cover of the sites. To address the inadequacies of urban–rural description, the “local climate zone” (LCZ) classification system has been developed. The LCZ system comprises 17 zone types at the local scale (102 to 104 m). Each type is unique in its combination of surface structure, cover, and human activity. Classification of sites into appropriate LCZs requires basic metadata and surface characterization. The zone definitions provide a standard framework for reporting and comparing field sites and their temperature observations. The LCZ system is designed primarily for urban heat island researchers, but it has derivative uses for city planners, landscape ecologists, and global climate change investigators.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: I. D. Stewart, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada, E-mail: stewarti@interchange.ubc.ca

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00019.2)

The effect of urban development on local thermal climate is widely documented in scientific literature. Observations of urban–rural air temperature differences—or urban heat islands (UHIs)—have been reported for cities and regions worldwide, often with local field sites that are extremely diverse in their physical and climatological characteristics. These sites are usually described only as “urban” or “rural,” leaving much uncertainty about the actual exposure and land cover of the sites. To address the inadequacies of urban–rural description, the “local climate zone” (LCZ) classification system has been developed. The LCZ system comprises 17 zone types at the local scale (102 to 104 m). Each type is unique in its combination of surface structure, cover, and human activity. Classification of sites into appropriate LCZs requires basic metadata and surface characterization. The zone definitions provide a standard framework for reporting and comparing field sites and their temperature observations. The LCZ system is designed primarily for urban heat island researchers, but it has derivative uses for city planners, landscape ecologists, and global climate change investigators.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: I. D. Stewart, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada, E-mail: stewarti@interchange.ubc.ca

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00019.2)

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