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Journal Article

Measuring and monitoring urban impacts on climate change from space


Milesi,  Cristina
External Organizations;


Churkina,  Galina
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Milesi, C., Churkina, G. (2020): Measuring and monitoring urban impacts on climate change from space. - Remote Sensing, 12, 21, 3494.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_24753
As urban areas continue to expand and play a critical role as both contributors to climate change and hotspots of vulnerability to its effects, cities have become battlegrounds for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Large amounts of earth observations from space have been collected over the last five decades and while most of the measurements have not been designed specifically for monitoring urban areas, an increasing number of these observations is being used for understanding the growth rates of cities and their environmental impacts. Here we reviewed the existing tools available from satellite remote sensing to study urban contribution to climate change, which could be used for monitoring the progress of climate change mitigation strategies at the city level. We described earth observations that are suitable for measuring and monitoring urban population, extent, and structure; urban emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants; urban energy consumption; and extent, intensity, and effects on surrounding regions, including nearby water bodies, of urban heat islands. We compared the observations available and obtainable from space with the measurements desirable for monitoring. Despite considerable progress in monitoring urban extent, structure, heat island intensity, and air pollution from space, many limitations and uncertainties still need to be resolved. We emphasize that some important variables, such as population density and urban energy consumption, cannot be suitably measured from space with available observations.