Special Issue "Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage"

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Climatology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Yasemin D. Aktas
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Interests: climate-induced urban hazards; urban sustainability; conservation engineering; urban microclimate; indoor environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is now an indisputable fact that the climate of our planet is changing, putting ever increasing pressure on the built environment and communites. In this context, cities are increasingly at the heart of the mitigation and adaptation discourse, due to growing urban populations and energy demand, further exacerbating the existing forms of urban vulnerability. Cultural heritage, which is one of the unique touch-points of our urban experience, is seen as the most critical in the face of a changing climate both for often being compromised by age, and for being irreplaceable.

It is for these reasons that Atmosphere is hosting a Special Issue dedicated to this urgent topic: urban cultural heritage under the impact of current and future climate. This impact includes both gradual climatic effects and extreme events, specifically sea level rise, floods, wind storms and cyclones, heat extremes and droughts. Complex, cascading interactions between these events, as well as how these coalesce with other stresses that are influential on urban cultural heritage are also of interest to this Special Issue. The contributions can include reviews, original research papers and case study reports using lab-based methods, in-situ monitoring or modelling to identify and quantify climatic impact, and how urban cultural heritage responds to it, which, in this context, includes both single and groups of heritage buildings, historic urban cores, museum collections, and intangible aspects of urban heritage. Contributions focussing on climate risk management and policy development, and novel methods of retrofit aimed at enhancing the climate resilience of urban cultural heritage are also welcome.

Dr. Yasemin D. Aktas
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Atmosphere is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urban cultural heritage
  • climate-induced urban hazards
  • climate resilience
  • extreme weather events
  • climate vulnerability assessment
  • climate adaptation and mitigation
  • climate risk management for cultural heritage

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
The Awareness of and Input into Cultural Heritage Preservation by Urban Planners and Other Municipal Actors in Light of Climate Change
Atmosphere 2021, 12(6), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12060726 - 06 Jun 2021
Viewed by 531
Abstract
Future climate conditions need to be considered in planning for urban areas. As well as considering how new structures would best endure in the future, it is important to take into account factors that contribute to the degradation of cultural heritage buildings in [...] Read more.
Future climate conditions need to be considered in planning for urban areas. As well as considering how new structures would best endure in the future, it is important to take into account factors that contribute to the degradation of cultural heritage buildings in the urban setting. Climate change can cause an increase in structural degradation. In this paper, a review of both what these factors are and how they are addressed by urban planners is presented. A series of inquiries into the topic was carried out on town planning personnel and those involved in cultural heritage preservation in several towns and cities in Finland and in a small number of other European countries. The target group members were asked about observed climate change impacts on cultural heritage, about present steps being taken to protect urban cultural heritage, and also their views were obtained on how climate change impacts will be emphasised in the future in this regard. The results of the inquiry demonstrate that climate change is still considered only in a limited way in urban planning, and more interaction between different bodies, both planning and heritage authorities, as well as current research on climate change impacts, is needed in the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Retrofit Strategies for Energy Efficiency of Historic Urban Fabric in Mediterranean Climate
Atmosphere 2020, 11(7), 742; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11070742 - 13 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 828
Abstract
Energy-efficient retrofitting of historic housing stock requires methodical approach, in-depth analysis and case-specific regulatory system, yet only limited efforts have been realized. In large scale rehabilitation projects, it is essential to develop a retrofit strategy on how to decide energy-efficient solutions for buildings [...] Read more.
Energy-efficient retrofitting of historic housing stock requires methodical approach, in-depth analysis and case-specific regulatory system, yet only limited efforts have been realized. In large scale rehabilitation projects, it is essential to develop a retrofit strategy on how to decide energy-efficient solutions for buildings providing the most energy saving in a short time. This paper presents a pilot study conducted at a neighborhood scale, consisting of 22 pre-, early-republican and contemporary residential buildings in a historic urban fabric in the Mediterranean climate. This study aims to develop an integrated approach to describe case-specific solutions for larger scale historic urban fabric. It covers the building performance simulation (BPS) model and numerical analysis to determine the most related design parameters affecting annual energy consumption. All the case buildings were classified into three main groups to propose appropriate retrofit solutions in different impact categories. Retrofit solutions were gathered into two retrofit packages, Package 1 and 2, and separately, three individual operational solutions were determined, considering a five-levelled assessment criteria of EN 16883:2017 Standard. Energy classes of case buildings were calculated based on National Building Energy Regulations. Changes in building classes were evaluated considering pre- and post-retrofit status of the buildings. For the integrated approach, the most related design parameters on annual energy consumption were specified through Pearson correlation analysis. The approach indicated that three buildings, representing each building group, can initially be retrofitted. For all buildings, while maximum energy saving was provided by Package 2 with 48.57%, minimum energy saving was obtained from Package 1 with 19.8%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Risk Mapping for the Sustainable Protection of Cultural Heritage in Extreme Changing Environments
Atmosphere 2020, 11(7), 700; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11070700 - 01 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 892
Abstract
Cultural heritage is widely recognized to be at risk due to the impact of climate change and associated hazards, such as events of heavy rain, flooding, and drought. User-driven solutions are urgently required for sustainable management and protection of monumental complexes and related [...] Read more.
Cultural heritage is widely recognized to be at risk due to the impact of climate change and associated hazards, such as events of heavy rain, flooding, and drought. User-driven solutions are urgently required for sustainable management and protection of monumental complexes and related collections exposed to changes of extreme climate. With this purpose, maps of risk-prone areas in Europe and in the Mediterranean Basin have been produced by an accurate selection and analysis of climate variables (daily minimum and maximum temperature—Tn and Tx, daily cumulated precipitation—RR) and climate-extreme indices (R20mm, R95pTOT, Rx5 day, CCD, Tx90p) defined by Expert Team on Climate Change Detection Indices (ETCCDI). Maps are available to users via an interactive Web GIS (Geographic Information System) tool, which provides evaluations based on historical observations (high-resolution gridded data set of daily climate over Europe—E-OBS, 25 km) and climate projections (regional climate models—RCM, ~12 km) for the near and far future, under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios. The tool aims to support public authorities and private organizations in the decision making process to safeguard at-risk cultural heritage. In this paper, maps of risk-prone areas of heavy rain in Central Europe (by using R20mm index) are presented and discussed as example of the outputs achievable by using the Web GIS tool. The results show that major future variations are always foreseen for the 30-year period 2071–2100 under the pessimistic scenario (RCP 8.5). In general, the coastal area of the Adriatic Sea, the Northern Italy, and the Alps are foreseen to experience the highest variations in Central Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Mapping Climate Change, Natural Hazards and Tokyo’s Built Heritage
Atmosphere 2020, 11(7), 680; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11070680 - 28 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1160
Abstract
Although climate change is well recognised as an important issue in Japan, there has been little interest from scientists or the public on the potential threat it poses to heritage. The present study maps the impact of emerging pressures on museums and historic [...] Read more.
Although climate change is well recognised as an important issue in Japan, there has been little interest from scientists or the public on the potential threat it poses to heritage. The present study maps the impact of emerging pressures on museums and historic buildings in the Tokyo Area. We examine a context to the threat in terms of fluctuating levels of visitors as a response to environmental issues, from SARS and COVID-19, through to earthquakes. GIS mapping allows a range of natural and human-induced hazards to be expressed as the spatial spread of risk. Temperature is increasing and Tokyo has a heat island which makes the city hotter than its surroundings. This adds to the effects of climate change. Temperature increases and a decline in relative humidity alter the potential for mould growth and change insect life cycles. The region is vulnerable to sea level rise, but flooding is also a likely outcome of increasingly intense falls of rain, especially during typhoons. Reclamation has raised the risk of liquefaction during earthquakes that are relatively frequent in Japan. Earthquakes cause structural damage and fires after the rupture of gas pipelines and collapse of electricity pylons. Fires from lightning strikes might also increase in a future Tokyo. These are especially relevant, as many Japanese heritage sites use wood for building materials. In parallel, more natural landscapes of the region are also affected by a changing climate. The shifting seasons already mean the earlier arrival of the cherry blossom and a later arrival of autumn colours and a lack of winter snow. The mapping exercise should highlight the spatial distribution of risk and the way it is likely to change, so it can contribute to longer term heritage management plans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Outdoor Thermal Comfort and Building Energy Use Potential in Different Land-Use Areas in Tropical Cities: Case of Kuala Lumpur
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060652 - 19 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1421
Abstract
High air temperature and high humidity, combined with low wind speeds, are common trends in the tropical urban climates, which collectively govern heat-induced health risks and outdoor thermal comfort under the given hygrothermal conditions. The impact of different urban land-uses on air temperatures [...] Read more.
High air temperature and high humidity, combined with low wind speeds, are common trends in the tropical urban climates, which collectively govern heat-induced health risks and outdoor thermal comfort under the given hygrothermal conditions. The impact of different urban land-uses on air temperatures is well-documented by many studies focusing on the urban heat island phenomenon; however, an integrated study of air temperature and humidity, i.e., the human-perceived temperatures, in different land-use areas is essential to understand the impact of hot and humid tropical urban climates on the thermal comfort of urban dwellers for an appraisal of potential health risks and the associated building energy use potential. In this study, we show through near-surface monitoring how these factors vary in distinct land-use areas of Kuala Lumpur city, characterized by different morphological features (high-rise vs. low-rise; compact vs. open), level of anthropogenic heating and evapotranspiration (built-up vs. green areas), and building materials (concrete buildings vs. traditional Malay homes in timber) based on the calculated heat index (HI), apparent temperature (TApp) and equivalent temperature (TE) values in wet and dry seasons. The results show that the felt-like temperatures are almost always higher than the air temperatures in all land-use areas, and this difference is highest in daytime temperatures in green areas during the dry season, by up to about 8 °C (HI)/5 °C (TApp). The TE values are also up to 9% higher in these areas than in built-up areas. We conclude that tackling urban heat island without compromising thermal comfort levels, hence encouraging energy use reduction in buildings to cope with outdoor conditions requires a careful management of humidity levels, as well as a careful selection of building morphology and materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Communication
The Road Not Taken: Building Physics, and Returning to First Principles in Sustainable Design
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060620 - 11 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2438
Abstract
The path we are currently following towards ‘sustainable design’ is a result of the accidents of the past 300 years of history. If we look further back, to before the exploitation of fossil fuels, we find a very different approach to building envelopes, [...] Read more.
The path we are currently following towards ‘sustainable design’ is a result of the accidents of the past 300 years of history. If we look further back, to before the exploitation of fossil fuels, we find a very different approach to building envelopes, and to building use and comfort. This was necessarily very low carbon, and demonstrably effective, but, unfortunately, we have forgotten many of the fundamental principles on which it rested. This paper argues that our current choice of retrofit pathway is leading us away from, rather than towards, a sustainable built environment. Current efforts to reduce carbon and energy based on modern ’layered’ envelopes and misunderstandings of thermal comfort are proving much less effective than predicted. We would further argue that they are too often delivering unintended consequences: contributing to the overuse of carbon and energy, and derailing the development of a sustainable built environment. We draw on research and case studies, as well as on the lessons from history, to show how the problem derives from a neglect of first-principles thinking and fundamental building physics. Equally, though, we show how combining good building physics with a re-evaluation of older approaches to construction and building use delivers some powerful and effective tools for tackling the climate emergency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Energy Efficiency, Thermal Comfort, and Heritage Conservation in Residential Historic Buildings as Dynamic and Systemic Socio-Cultural Practices
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 604; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060604 - 08 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1401
Abstract
With buildings being responsible for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, intensive building decarbonization programs are in place worldwide, with unintended consequences for historic buildings. To this end, national and international guidance on energy efficiency for historic buildings advocate for the [...] Read more.
With buildings being responsible for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, intensive building decarbonization programs are in place worldwide, with unintended consequences for historic buildings. To this end, national and international guidance on energy efficiency for historic buildings advocate for the adoption of a ‘whole house approach’ that integrates heritage values in energy efficiency plans. Most guidance, though, relies on non-evidence based, pre-assumptions of residents’ heritage values. And yet, unless we understand how and why residents negotiate their decisions between energy efficiency, thermal comfort, and heritage conservation, such guidance will not be applicable. Despite the urgency to decarbonize the building stock, research on how inhabitants of old buildings make such decisions is extremely limited. It is also case-study specific, often lacking the required depth. To address this gap, this paper offers the first international, in-depth study on the topic. It does so through a rigorous double-coded, thematic analysis of 59 in-depth semi-structured interviews (totaling 206,771 words) carried out in Greece, Mexico, and the UK. The thematic analysis is combined with system dynamic analysis, essential for unveiling what parameters affect inhabitants’ decisions over time. Drawing on theories on the dynamics of social practices, we conclude that the process of decision-making on energy efficiency, thermal comfort improvement, and heritage conservation is a socio-cultural, dynamic practice, the change and continuation of which depends on how the following elements are connected or disconnected: materials (e.g., original features), competencies (e.g., restoration skills), resources (e.g., costs), values, space/environment (e.g., natural light), senses (e.g., thermal comfort), and time (e.g., years living in the house). The connection or disconnection of those elements will depend on (a) the nature of the context (e.g., rural, urban, conservation area); (b) the listing status; (c) age and construction materials of building; (d) local climate; and (e) ownership status. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Exposure Indices of Extreme Wind-Driven Rain Events for Built Heritage
Atmosphere 2020, 11(2), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11020163 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1070
Abstract
Building performance and material change of cultural heritage in urban areas are negatively impacted by wind-driven rain (WDR). The frequency and intensity of WDR exposure are modified by climate change. Current approaches to exposure assessment emphasise prolonged exposure. Here, we propose indices to [...] Read more.
Building performance and material change of cultural heritage in urban areas are negatively impacted by wind-driven rain (WDR). The frequency and intensity of WDR exposure are modified by climate change. Current approaches to exposure assessment emphasise prolonged exposure. Here, we propose indices to represent the exposure of cultural heritage to extreme WDR events. The indices are derived in two stages: (1) time-binning of long-term exposure, and (2) statistical representation of the occurrence of infrequent but intense events by fitting to the Generalised Extreme Value (GEV) distribution. A comparison to an existing exposure assessment procedure demonstrates that the proposed indices better represent shorter, more intense, and more consistent WDR events. Indices developed for seasons had greater statistical confidence than those developed for annual exposure. One index is contextualised within a model of a gutter on a terraced building: this converts the index from a measure of exposure to potential impact. This evaluation demonstrated the importance of maintenance to reduce the potential impact of WDR events. This work has direct and indirect implications for developing robust assessment procedures for cultural heritage exposure to extreme weather events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Review

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Review
A Geological Perspective on Climate Change and Building Stone Deterioration in London: Implications for Urban Stone-Built Heritage Research and Management
Atmosphere 2020, 11(8), 788; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11080788 - 26 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1272
Abstract
The decay rates of building stones and, the processes leading to their deterioration is governed by intrinsic properties such as texture, mineralogy, porosity and pore size distribution, along with other extrinsic factors related to the climate and anthropogenic activities. For urban cities such [...] Read more.
The decay rates of building stones and, the processes leading to their deterioration is governed by intrinsic properties such as texture, mineralogy, porosity and pore size distribution, along with other extrinsic factors related to the climate and anthropogenic activities. For urban cities such as London, the influence of extrinsic factors like temperature and rainfall, as well as the concentrations of air pollutants, such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides, along with the emissions of carbonaceous aerosols, can be particularly significant. While considering the long-term preservation of building stones used in various heritage sites in the city, it is imperative to consider how the stone could be affected by the changing air pollutant concentrations, superimposed on the effects of climate change in the region, including rising average annual temperature and precipitation with a hotter, drier summer and, warmer, wetter winter months. This paper deals with the intrinsic rock properties of the common building stones of London, including limestone, marble, granite, sandstone, slate, flint as well as bricks, building on known characteristics including strength and durability that determine how and where they are placed in a building structure. The study reviews how these stones decay due to different processes such as salt weathering in sandstone, microcracking of quartz with kaolinisation of K-feldspar and biotite in granite and dissolution of calcite and dolomite, followed by precipitation of sulphate minerals in the carbonate rocks of limestone and marble. In the urban environment of London, with progressive build up in the concentration of atmospheric nitrogen oxides leading to an increasingly acidic environment and, with predicted climate change, the diverse stone-built heritage will be affected. For example, there can be enhanced carbonate dissolution in limestone with increased annual precipitation. Due to the prolonged wetter winter, any sandstone building stone will also undergo greater damage with a deeper wetting front. On the other hand, due to predicted wetter and warmer winter months, microcracking of any plagioclase in a granite is unlikely, thereby reducing the access of fluid and air pollutants to the Ca-rich core of the zoned crystals limiting the process of sericitisation. Management of the building stones in London should include routine expert visual inspection for signs of deterioration, along with mineralogical and compositional analyses and assessment of any recession rate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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Review
Policy Framework for Energy Retrofitting of Built Heritage: A Critical Comparison of UK and Turkey
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 674; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060674 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1206
Abstract
Energy efficiency is one of the most prominent global challenges of our era. Heritage buildings usually have a poor energy performance, not necessarily because of their intrinsic constructive features but due to their mostly dilapidated condition owed to age and previous damage, exacerbated [...] Read more.
Energy efficiency is one of the most prominent global challenges of our era. Heritage buildings usually have a poor energy performance, not necessarily because of their intrinsic constructive features but due to their mostly dilapidated condition owed to age and previous damage, exacerbated by other factors such as the limited maintenance allowed by the restrictive legal framework and/or residents not being able to afford retrofit. On both national and international levels, energy efficiency measures are considered the key to answering the global challenge of climate change. This article aims to provide a critical discussion of the policy framework for energy retrofitting targeting built heritage in the UK and in Turkey. To this end, the development of guidance and legislation on cultural heritage, energy efficiency and climate change in both countries were thoroughly reviewed, and the retrofit incentives and constraints were determined in order to identify existing policy gaps and potential problems with implementation in the realm of energy retrofitting and climate resiliency of heritage buildings. As a result of a critical comparative analysis, the paper is concluded with suggestions on policy frames for the retrofitting of heritage buildings for improved energy efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Urban Cultural Heritage)
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