Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. http://doi.org/hx5 (2012)


Urban development can lead to localized temperature increases, known as urban heat islands. They can occur in all urban areas, regardless of size or climate. This effect has been reported worldwide and can have implications for climate records. The differential between urban and rural temperature needs to be better defined, to ensure climate records are not compromised by this effect.

Iain Stewart and Tim Oke, of the University of British Columbia, Canada, have developed a classification system of 'local climate zones'. This system defines 17 zone types at the local scale (102–104 metres). Each zone is unique in its surface structure, land cover and human activity.

The system provides a climate-based classification of urban and rural areas for temperature studies. It has implications for urban-heat-island research, and will improve consistency and accuracy in urban climate reporting. Outcomes from the classification system will be helpful tools for planning authorities and climate change researchers.