KLIMES – Strategies and Concepts for Urban Planning to Mitigate the Impacts of Climate Extrems on Well-Being and Health of People in Cities

Background and Goals

Recent results from simulations of the regional climate change predict a significant increase of extreme heat waves in Central Europe. This negative change of the climatic conditions leads to an enhanced importance of human thermal comfort in urban planning. For its problem-specific consideration, quantitative assessment methods and thermal indices, respectively, have to be applied, which were developed in the field of human-biometeorology.

The cooperative project KLIMES deals with solutions for planning-related problems caused by the impacts of extreme heat in summer on people in cities. The main objective is to update and test existing guidelines for urban planning under the changed climatic conditions, which is based on human-biometeorological results considering environmental protection as well. The application of this guideline in different scales of urban planning should reduce the negative impacts of increasing extreme heat in summer on people in cities. So the impairment of human thermal comfort will not reach the extent, which strongly limits the quality of urban life.

The research is performed is the city of Freiburg in SW Germany. Due to its location at the eastern border of the N-S oriented southern upper Rhine plain, Freiburg represents the warmest city in Germany. Results of regional climate simulations predict heat waves for this region, which will be more frequent, longer and more intensive in the future.

Different urban quarters were selected as investigation sites in Freiburg based on the following criteria:

  •  typical urban planning tasks in our climate region in the future,
  •  current or finished urban planning tasks in the period of the present climate change,
  •  typical urban structures for central European cities.

Different coordinated methods are applied in the selected urban quarters in Freiburg to obtain results for the human thermal comfort during extreme summer heat:

  •  experimental investigations to analyse the perception of the thermal environment at exposed sites by a collective of people using the thermal index PET* (update of the international used physiologically equivalent temperature PET),
  •  parallel interviews with people, based on standardised questionnaires, on their use of urban open spaces and their subjective perception of the thermal environment to grade the PET* results,
  •  micro-scale simulation of human thermal comfort – with emphasis on urban structures and human behaviour – under current and future regional climate conditions in summer,
  •  development of human-biometeorological strategies for sustainable concepts of the urban renewal based on the results of experimental investigations and simulations.

These methods will primarily be applied outdoors in selected urban quarters, but they will be additionally used indoors during parallel investigations.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
  • Europe (EU-25)
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Hesse
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
  • Upper Rhine Rift
  • Central low mountain ranges and Harz
Spatial resolution 

microclimate in Freiburg

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Simulation of urban microclimate for selected city structures in Freiburg were done under current and under changing conditions based on the IPCC climate projections (2007). Extension of the microclimate model ENVI-met a simulation of thermal indoor conditions by the thermal comfort index PET (physiologically equivalent temperature) and evaluation of the thermal bioclimate by means of multi-agent simulations

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Heat waves
  • Higher average temperatures
Time horizon
  • long term = to 2100 and beyond
Further times 


Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The impact of climate trends and extreme weather in cities during summer on people in- and outdoors is considered. Based on the results from regional climate simulations, the probability is very high that in Central Europe the near-surface temperature will rise and an intensification of extreme heat waves in summer will occur. Changes in the large-scale thermal conditions will be exacerbated in cities by their own urban climate. Thus, there will be greater impairment of thermal comfort for people in cities in the future. Development of a ranking of city structures, which characterizes different thermal stress intensities for people in cities during extreme warm summers today and in the future.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Since regional climate models predict an intensification of extreme heat waves in summer for Central Europe, the importance of human biometerological oriented strategies in urban planning increases significantly to minimize the future impairment of thermal comfort for people in cities. To develope such strategies quantitative information of the influencing factors regarding the thermal comfort in different neighborhoods are required. Objective is the development of urban climate guidelines for the implementation of adaptation strategies in urban planning and problem-specific synthesis of all the results in a practicable guide to climate change oriented planning and building.


Funding / Financing 

Funding programme “klimazwei – research for climate protection and protection from climate impacts”, Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany

Project management 

Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Meteorological Institute


Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Meteorological Institute
University of Kassel, Department of Environmental Meteorology
University of Kassel, Department of Urban Development
Ruhr-University Bochum, Geography Department, Geomatics Group


Meteorologisches Institut der
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Werthmannstr. 10
D-79085 Freiburg

meteo @ meteo.uni-freiburg.de

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Fields of action:
 building sector  spatial, regional and urban land use planning