World-leading climate technology comes to city

By on 22/03/2011 in News

Birmingham's reputation as a world-leader on climate change is set to be strengthened after bids to develop climate prediction technologies were approved.

The city council and its Environmental Partnership has teamed up with the University of Birmingham and the West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Partnership to secure cash from DEFRA and the Natural Environment Research Council to create a weather station and “Hi Temp” network of 250 sensors to better understand how the climate varies across the city during heatwaves.

Once complete, Birmingham is expected to have the best climate dataset in the world thanks to the Hi-temp and BUCCANEER (Birmingham Urban Climate Change and Neighbourhood Estimates of Environmental Risk) projects - information which will help make the city a safer place to live in the future.

In total, £715,000 is coming from the University's council-backed bid to the Natural Environment Research Council for funding to install the sensors, while DEFRA has contributed £16,000 for the climate station, set to be built later this year.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The impact of climate change can already be seen in Birmingham with the average temperature increasing by 0.6oC over the last 30 years.”

The 2003 heatwave saw temperatures top 38.5oC nationally, which caused over 2,000 excess deaths in the UK.

“Research suggests these could be average summer temperatures by 2040 as our climate continues to warm and extreme weather becomes more frequent and intense - so we need to understand how future weather events will affect people's health and the city's infrastructure, which is exactly what this project will enable us to do.”

The distribution of heat across Birmingham is affected by the density of the built environment, transport and industry, as well as the amount of green open space and water.

The resulting “urban heat island” is more pronounced at night when the city centre releases trapped heat, and it is believed the climate station and network of sensors will provide detailed information that helps manage future risk.

Professor John Thornes, one of the Project Leaders from the University of Birmingham, said: “These projects will certainly put Birmingham at the forefront of research into understanding the impact of climate change at neighbourhood level in cities.”

A sample map of Birmingham’s temperature can be downloaded at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamnewsroom/5549724236/

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. BUCCANEER project partners include Birmingham Environmental Partnership, Birmingham City Council, University of Birmingham, Birmingham Health and Wellbeing Partnership.

2. The Birmingham Environmental Partnership (BEP) is one of the seven thematic partnerships of Be Birmingham, the city's local strategic partnership, which brings together partners from the business, community, voluntary and faith sectors to deliver a better Birmingham. There are currently 45 organisations from the private, public, community and voluntary sectors working with BEP to make Birmingham a more sustainable city. Its four key priorities are: reducing levels of litter and graffiti; cutting waste; helping the city prepare for the impact of climate change and also reducing the city's carbon emissions.

3. WM Climate Change Adaptation Partnership brings together members from a wide background and works with other lead partners to deliver practical adaptation and build climate resilience.

For further information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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