Evaluating Weather-Related Risks for Cities

Cities significantly alter local and regional weather patterns. Pavement and brick raise surface temperatures, skyscrapers generate air turbulence, and heat from cars and other forms of energy consumption affect air currents. Collectively, these factors interact with the lower atmosphere to change the likelihood of floods, droughts, and extreme weather generally. In effect, urbanization is concentrating populations and economies in the crosshairs of weather-related hazards.

John D. Albertson and Qi Li, Civil and Environmental Engineering, are developing a predictive framework to understand the elevated risks of extreme weather that confront metropolitan areas. Building on observational data collected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), this research will use state-of-the-art weather modeling and remote-sensing observations to understand the causal links between key characteristics of cities and local weather patterns.

This research will improve the ability of municipalities, urban planners, and other stakeholders to assess the risk that extreme weather poses to urban populations. The project will produce a database of geospatial hydrometeorological information for urban areas and generate a multiscale framework to assess the effects of projected urban growth. Researchers will also create a risk-assessment toolkit—accessible to cities around the globe—that will enable planners, policymakers, and other stakeholders to identify and quantify heat and precipitation risks and make informed decisions in urban planning and infrastructure design.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$1.5 Million spanning 3 years

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