New tools for modeling urban climate

The World Urban Database and Access Portal Tools (WUDAPT) initiative, for which Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM) Program researchers play a crucial role, has started to gain momentum in the urban climate modeling community. WUDAPT is an attempt to classify all cities in the world using a standardized classification scheme based on local climate zones [1].

© Ken Cole | Dreamstime

© Ken Cole | Dreamstime

WUDAPT relies heavily on participation by the community of urban climate modelers around the world [2][3] who inject local knowledge about their cities to help in the classification and validation process. A workshop organized during the International Conference on Urban Climate in Toulouse France during the summer of 2015 had more than 200 participants. A second workshop was held in Hong Kong in December 2015 with a focus on classifying Chinese cities. The WUDAPT website has a facility for cities to sign up, with work now in progress in many cities. The Geo-Wiki tool will play a crucial role in the gathering of more detailed information at the building level in the future, using the local climate zone map as a sampling frame.

Figure 1 shows an example of a classification for the city of Kyiv in Ukraine undertaken by Olha Danylo, a Ukrainian Researcher in ESM’s Earth Observation Systems group [4].

Figure 1. Local climate zone classification of the city of Kyiv in Ukraine.


[1] Bechtel B, Alexander P, Böhner J, Ching J, Conrad O, Feddema J, Mills G, See L & Stewart I (2015). Mapping local climate zones for a worldwide database of form and function of cities. International Journal of Geo-Information, 4(1): 199-219.

[2] See L, Bechtel B, Mills G, Ching J, Alexander P, Feddema J, Foley M, O’Connor M, et al. (2015). Developing a community-based worldwide urban morphology and materials database (WUDAPT) using remote sensing and crowdsourcing for improved urban climate modeling. In Proceedings of the Joint Urban Remote Sensing Event.

[3] See L, Mills G & Ching J (2015). Climate modeling: Community initiative tackles urban heat. Nature, 526: 43.

[4] Danylo O, See L, Schepaschenko D & Fritz S. A local climate zone classification of two cities in Ukraine. Submitted to Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observation and Remote Sensing.


University College Dublin, Ireland

University of North Carolina, USA

University of Victoria, BC, Canada

University of Hamburg, Germany 

University of Toronto, Canada

International Association of Urban Climate (IAUC)

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Last edited: 15 March 2016


Steffen Fritz

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Strategic Initiatives Program|Novel Data Ecosystems For Sustainability Research Group

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Linda See

Senior Research Scholar

Novel Data Ecosystems For Sustainability Research Group

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Beating the heat with more data on urban form and function

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