URBAN DESIGN International

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 116–131 | Cite as

Microclimate assessment method for urban design – A case study in subarctic climate

  • Saeed Ebrahimabadi
  • Charlotta Johansson
  • Agatino Rizzo
  • Kristina Nilsson
Original Article


Interest in climate-sensitive urban design has grown in recent decades. Nevertheless, there are various difficulties associated with such an approach. One of these is the lack of simple comfort assessment tools. This article presents a method for microclimate assessment that is composed of a wind comfort analysis and a microclimate assessment based on measuring a combination of solar access and wind velocity. The study includes analysis of a proposed urban project situated in Kiruna, a Swedish town located in the subarctic region of the country. The results from the simulations were then overlaid to produce combined microclimate maps for three specific dates: winter solstice, spring equinox and summer solstice. The maps illustrate relative microclimate differences between areas in the proposed project based on combinations of wind/lee and sun/shadow conditions. The outcomes showed that only a small proportion of the area studied had favourable microclimate conditions at the winter solstice and spring equinox. The thermal comfort Index OUT_SET* was calculated for the summer solstice in the study area. Comparisons between the spatial distribution of OUT_SET* values and the microclimate assessment map showed a large degree of correlation. The method is intended to be a simple and representative evaluation of microclimate.


microclimate assessment outdoor comfort subarctic climate wind comfort urban design 



This article was made possible by the research programs Attract B and Alice. Financial support for these programmes was provided by Hjalmar Lundbohm Research Centre, Vinnova and the Swedish Research Council Formas. The authors are grateful to the reviewers for their comments and constructive suggestions. Sincere thanks also go to Dr Erik Johansson from Lund University for his feedback on the simulation techniques used in the article.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saeed Ebrahimabadi
    • 1
  • Charlotta Johansson
    • 1
  • Agatino Rizzo
    • 1
  • Kristina Nilsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil, Environmental, and Natural Resources Engineering, Luleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden

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