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Improving Urban Form Predictions to Improve Urban Microclimate Models.

Presentation Date
Monday, December 13, 2021 at 3:05pm
Convention Center - Room 206-207

Climate models which can communicate potential future hazards at the scale of human decision making are an important tool for improving decision making. Climate models which can communicate future human-scale consequences will be more effective in supporting those decisions. Most of the world’s population lives in cites and cities are the scale at which most land use and infrastructure decisions are made. For this reason, plausible projections of urban form are needed understand the city-scale consequences of future hazards, particularly in places which might experience both population growth and climate hazards.

So, how does aggregate building volume change with city size? Are there general patterns in the distribution of building sizes within a city? How does the distribution of building sizes within a city change as urban population changes? In this project, we build on well-known results from urban scaling theory, which show increasingly dense population and increasingly intense infrastructure use with city size. Based on new building level data from across the United States, we show that aggregate urban building volume also scales sublinearly with city size, suggesting increasingly intense building use with larger cities. We then explore the distribution of the volume of individual buildings within a city, testing if this distribution is Zipfian, and the extent to which it holds consistent across different US cities. Accurate characterization of the distribution of building volumes within a city, and understanding if these observed distributions are a general characteristic of urban infrastructure will help determine which patterns in the relationships between human and physical systems are causally determined. Theoretical models on how individual and aggregate building volume may change with city size would enable better predictions on how urban morphology may change in the future. These future urban morphologies are useful for understanding how infrastructure changes and climate changes combine to influence the temperatures that urban residents may experience in the future.

Funding Program Area(s)