5th RAMSES newsletter

Table of contents

Welcome to the fifth RAMSES Newsletter!

The RAMSES eNewsletter will inform you about results and events of the EU research project RAMSES. The aim is to keep all relevant actors in the field of climate change adaptation up to date with regard to much needed quantification of the impact of climate change on cities and criteria to prioritise adaptation options.

I) RAMSES Research

II) RAMSES events

III) RAMSES Deliverables available online

IV) RAMSES publications

I) RAMSES Research

Pan-European assessment of climate change risks for urban areas

What are the key risks that climate change poses for European cities? How can national and EU-wide adaptation investments be prioritised? In order to inform these decisions, the RAMSES project evaluated the risk of future changes in heat-waves, droughts and floods in all European cities. We calculated the possible changes in the hazards using more than 50 climate model runs to account for the uncertainty in predicting future climate and combined these with measures of exposure and vulnerability creating a comparable risk score for each European city and each hazard.

The approach takes advantage of increased availability of European and global datasets and computing power to apply the method to the 571 cities in the EU’s Urban Audit database.  

This high-level cities risk assessment involved development of:

  • A framework for city-scale climate risk analysis that uses EU-wide (or global) data so can be applied to give a baseline assessment of all EU cities in the Urban Audit database;
  • A suite of EU-wide climate hazard modelling tools for flooding, heatwaves and droughts.
  • An EU-wide exposure and vulnerability assessment of each city in the urban audit database.
  • Integration of exposure, vulnerability and hazard datasets to evaluate risks.

The spatial database of vulnerability, exposure, hazard and risk results for each urban audit city, will be uploaded to the European Climate Adaptation Platform and the EEA Climate Change Data Centre.

High-level analysis of hazard (see example for heat-waves in Figure 1), exposure, vulnerability and risks (see example for heat-waves in Figure 2) enables prioritisation of national and EU-wide adaptation investments.  Furthermore, by assessing the components of risk separately the results provide important insights into the nature of appropriate adaptation strategies– whether to focus on engineered adaptation and/or strengthening socio-economic capabilities.

Figure 1: Heat-wave hazard indices: change in percentage of heat-wave days (top) and change in the maximum temperature felt during a heat-wave (bottom) for a low (left), medium (centre) and high (right) impact scenario.

Heat and drought risks are significant in places but show regional variability, as does socio-economic vulnerability.  Typically, cities in Northern European latitudes are less susceptible to unprecedented droughts than those in Southern latitudes.  Most notably, the variability in hazards exceeds those reported by previous analyses, which have only been based upon a small number of climate model results.  Under the high impact hazard results, increases in heat-wave risk and peak temperatures are prevalent across all EU cities.

Figure 2: Indices of heat wave exposure (left), vulnerability (centre), and risk – defined as exposure*vulnerability*hazard (right).
The methods developed provide a number of important advances over previous high-level assessments that include:

  • A focus on risk evaluation of multiple hazards for urban areas, rather than regions or other scales;
  • Analysis of over 50 climate model simulations from CMIP5 to explore the range of climate hazard uncertainties;
  • Application of high resolution process models to simulate urban flooding by exploiting cloud computing technologies;
  • Development of a flexible, scalable and transparent indicator-based vulnerability  assessment method by combining 58 sources of information, and;
  • Implementation of a stable risk analysis model based on the combination of standardized hazard, exposure and vulnerability scores

The very nature of a high-level approach makes it inappropriate for local risk assessments, or emergency planning.  Ongoing work in RAMSES is developing tools to support detailed risk analysis for these purposes. You can find the complete report here.


Climate resilient architecture, infrastructure and urban environments in RAMSES cities

The RAMSES partners performed a systematic analysis of municipal policy and planning documents for all RAMSES cast cities (Antwerp, Bilbao, Bogotá, Hyderabad, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, and Skopje) to see how resilience principles and quantitative frameworks could be best introduced in a practical way.

There is a considerable gap in maturity and complexity of climate resilience concepts between academic literature and the actual use of these concepts in practice. The detailed and advanced resilience frameworks and indicators found in the literature are not really used in practice. Reciprocally, operational frameworks for urban resilience are essentially self-assessment tools designed to increase the adaptive capacity of the city or business services. These tools consist mainly of checklists and guiding principles. They can hardly be used to directly guide investment as envisioned within the RAMSES project. To address this challenge, we analysed current practices of 8 RAMSES case study cities, to see where and how resilience principles and quantitative frameworks could be best introduced in a practical way.

For each RAMSES city, we performed a systematic analysis of municipal policy and planning documents. These documents were assessed to ascertain the inclusion of climate resilience dimensions in architecture, infrastructure and urban environments in the executive summary to show their importance, and operationalised through goals and strategies. We also analysed whether impact and cost assessments had been performed, whether the proposed measures were legally binding, and integrated in checklists for project development used by city officials.

We found that many of the analysed policy documents lack references to a comparison of the potential costs of the impacts of climate change versus the costs of adaptation. Few policy documents have a clear and detailed description of specific impacts on the city, and few policy documents present a clear assessment methodology for climate hazard vulnerability and potential adaptation measures.

These analyses will be used by RAMSES to support the improvement of urban policies and governance, and to stimulate European urban strategies for transition towards more climate-resilient cities. More information about the results of the RAMSES city analyses can be found in the report Climate resilience in architecture, infrastructure and urban environments. Analysis of RAMSES case study cities.


Adaptation measures and corresponding indicators for resilient architecture and infrastructure

RAMSES has created a taxonomy of indicators and measures for resilient architecture and infrastructure, which can be implemented by public authorities at the building, neighbourhood and catchment scales of the city to create more robust strategies in the face of climate change. The measures and indicators are divided into different classification systems based on an array of attributes, allowing for a more flexible and customisable approach to their organisation.
The taxonomy was developed in cooperation between RAMSES researchers and city representatives, and is based on the eight RAMSES case study cities (Antwerp, Bilbao, Bogotá, Hyderabad, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, and Skopje) and scientific literature.

The taxonomy emphasises structural and physical adaptation options for blue, green, and grey infrastructures, to support cost and impact assessment in the RAMSES project. Social and institutional measures are extremely important but not currently addressed in this taxonomy; they will be addressed in other parts of the RAMSES research, namely the work on governance and transition.

The taxonomy is intended to be a live document which will be updated to include all measures as they are defined and evaluated throughout the RAMSES project. The adaptation and resilience taxonomy currently includes 30 adaptation measures, where each measure comprises a single page consisting of 11 rows containing the relevant attributes of the measure: Measure; Title; Description; Type of infrastructure; Scale of implementation; Main threat addressed; Expected outcome; Performance indicator; Affected urban surface parameters; Resilience dimensions; and Scientific references. The adaptation measures that are currently included are:

More information about the taxonomy can be found in the report Adaptation measures and corresponding indicators for resilient architecture and infrastructure.

II) RAMSES events

RAMSES Project 2nd Webinar “Drawing Pathways towards the Resilient City: Identifying vulnerabilities, empowering decision-making, fostering change” on 4 November 2015, 14.00-15.30 Central European Time

Climate adaptation and resilience building are already a priority in many cities. While the urgency of adaptation is indubitable, there is still the need for knowledge and resources to support its implementation. The RAMSES project’s aim is to produce scientific evidence to inform adaptation decision-making.

During the webinar “Drawing Pathways towards the Resilient City: Identifying vulnerabilities, empowering decision-making, fostering change” (4th November 2015, 14.00-15.30 Central European Time) we will be sharing the research presented and the input resulting from the discussions of the 2nd RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogue (you will find workshop report of the here and a video with some impressions of the day here).

Specifically, the RAMSES project researchers will present their preliminary findings on crucial adaptation topics, such as:

  • Addressing the impacts of climate change, and specifically heat on public health and the related adaptation options (World Health Organisation);
  • Different tools, methods and experiences to inform and trigger decision-making on adaptation (University of Versailles);
  • Enabling factors and indicators to make and evaluate progress on reaching a given long-term vision (TECNALIA).

The webinar will be facilitated by ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability.

Places are limited – please register now for the event by clicking here. The event is free of charge!

In case you have questions, please contact alberto.terenzi@iclei.org  


Technical requirements to join the webinar:

Please note that, in order to join the webinar, you will need appropriate players. Please check whether you have the required players installed on your computer by visiting https://iclei-events.webex.com/iclei-events/onstage/systemdiagnosis.php

The playback of UCF (Universal Communications Format) rich media files requires appropriate players. To view this type of rich media files in the meeting, please check whether you have the players installed on your computer by going to https://iclei-events.webex.com/iclei-events/onstage/systemdiagnosis.php

III) RAMSES Deliverables available online

All finalised public Deliverables can be downloaded from our project website www.ramses-cities.eu.

New research reports are:

High level quantified assessment of key vulnerabilities and priority risks for urban areas in the EU

This report describes a high level climate risk analysis methodology for urban areas. The approach takes advantage of increased availability of European and global dataset and computing power to apply the method to 571 cities in the EU’s Urban Audit database.

Climate resilience in architecture, infrastructure and urban environments. Analysis of RAMSES case study cities

This report addresses the state of the art in RAMSES case-study cities. The results contribute to a taxonomy of indicators and design guidelines for resilient architecture, infrastructure and urban environments that can be implemented by public authorities at the building, neighbourhood and catchment scales of the city. A first part of the report examines also the interplay of blue, green and grey infrastructures and soft adaptation measures, based on third party research, and highlights the necessity of a multi-scale approach to resilient infrastructure within and between sectors.

Adaptation measures and corresponding indicators for resilient architecture and infrastructure

This report contains a taxonomy of adaptation measures and corresponding indicators for resilient architecture and infrastructure that can be implemented by public authorities at the building, neighbourhood and catchment scales of the city. The taxonomy was developed in cooperation between RAMSES researchers and city representatives (Deliverable 2.4 of the RAMSES project).

Typology of the tools available to policy-makers and assessment of their efficiency

This research explores urban adaptation by analysing three main approaches that can assist local leaders to implement adaptation measures to climate change: grey, green and soft measures. The study places special emphasis on the need of a package of measures to be implemented holistically with significant attention to “soft” options, mainly social empowerment and participatory tools of multiple stakeholders, as successful enablers of an effective adaptation plan.

IV) RAMSES publications

Europe The work leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 308497
Project RAMSES - Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities.