Climatic Change

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 23–33 | Cite as

Hidden climate change – urban meteorology and the scales of real weather

  • Vladimir JankovićEmail author
  • Michael Hebbert


This paper discusses the scale at which the weather is experienced and modified by human activities in urban environment. The climates of built-up areas differ from their non-urban counterparts in many aspect: wind-flows, radiation, humidity, precipitation and air quality all change in the presence of human settlement, transforming each city into a singularity within its regional weather system. Yet this pervasive category of anthropogenic climate change has always tended to be hidden and difficult to discern. The paper first describes the sequence of discovery of the urban heat island since the early nineteenth century, and the emergence and consolidation of a scientific field devoted to the climatology of cities. This is followed by a discussion of various attempts to apply knowledge of climatic factors to the design and management of settlement. We find that real-world application of urban climatology has met with limited success. However, the conclusion suggests that global climate change gives a new visibility and practical relevance to urban-scale climate science.


Urban Heat Island Street Canyon Climate Science World Meteorological Organization Urban Climate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Economic and Social Research Council which supported the project ‘Climate Science and Urban Design’ under Grant RES-062-23-2134.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the History of Science Technology & MedicineUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Manchester Architecture Research CentreUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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