“Heat waves in Berlin, Germany – Urban climate modifications“

Aerial image of Berlin
© TU Berlin

The DFG funded research project 'Heat waves in Berlin, Germany – Urban climate modifications' ('HeatWaves') is part of the project bundle “Heat waves in Berlin, Germany” and aims at investigating how urban structures modify regional heat waves, both spatially and temporally. A central goal will be to understand which processes lead to such modifications.

Research will focus on Berlin, Germany, and the surrounding region of Brandenburg as the climate is characterised by distinct seasons and since heat waves regularly occur with varying intensity and duration. These heat waves cause heat-related risks on the urban population, which could be shown during the DFG funded research unit 1736 "Urban Climate and Heat Stress in mid-latitude cities in view of climate change" (UCaHS) . The new project “HeatWaves” builds on these findings and focuses on the city with its heterogeneous building and land cover structure.

In a first step, different heat wave definitions that already exist shall be compared to a new risk-based approach, which focuses on the impact of heat waves on the population. This should allow better quantitative and city-specific analyses of heat-related risks.

After having identified heat wave periods, an in-depth analysis of the meteorological conditions during these periods shall show, that heat waves are not only characterised by sunny conditions with calm winds but that distinct differences in meteorological conditions exist. Within the city these regional conditions are modified by building structures, urban vegetation, and soil conditions, spatially and temporally. An essential part of this research shall be the analyses of long-term atmospheric data of the 'Urban Climate Observation Network' and observations by other institutions (e.g. German Meteorological Service), including eddy-covariance measurements for energy and water vapour fluxes.

Lastly, it shall be investigated, how these spatial differences in meteorological and climatological conditions can be aggregated to administrative areas such as city districts, for which risk data are typically available. This shall enable risk analyses for city districts.

In collaboration with our research partner Dr. Sebastian Schubert at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin we will investigate, how projected global climate change leads to changes in intensity, duration, and frequency of heat waves in Berlin and thus in heat-related risks.