Prof Corinne Le Quéré (UEA)
It is well known that most cities are warmer than their surrounding environment. This Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect is caused by changes in the way heat is exchanged in the built environment. Published studies show that the UHI grows initially as cities develop, but tends to saturate when urbanization reaches a certain level of maturity. However, because of the lack of a global synthesis of UHI characteristics, we do not fully understand what influences UHIs across a range of geographical and climate settings. Therefore it is hard to recommend if and how it could be minimized, particularly in the context of growing cities and a changing climate due to human influences. Here we propose to fill this gap.
The PhD candidate will first make a systematic assessment of UHI warming based on all relevant existing data. With this new data synthesis, the candidate will attempt to determine relationships between the characteristics of the UHI (i.e. its magnitude, change over time, extremes, and night/day properties), and (1) the stage of urbanization of a city, (2) environmental variables such as mean temperature, humidity, prevalent wind direction, distance from coast, elevation, and (3) the type of city and its urban design (e.g., size, compactness, green space, water bodies, building height). The project will also explore the implications of projected UHI effects this century for heat-related health burden, and if possible propose effective solutions to minimise it.
The successful candidate will be trained to develop and use large datasets (what to include, how to quality-control, use of statistics, handling of uncertainty) including satellite data and climate model outputs. The candidate will work across the Climatic Research Unit and Tyndall Centre at UEA and interact with international experts, policymakers (such as the World Health Organization) and stakeholders from a range of cities and disciplines.
This project is particularly suitable for candidates with first degrees in any sciences and an interest in the environment and climate change (including physics, mathematics, engineering, computer sciences, and earth and environmental sciences).