Sweltering summers in the city may become more bearable in future years, thanks to a new study probing the heat contributed by buildings, roads and traffic.
Researchers at The University of Manchester will use a small plane and a car fitted with advanced equipment to map out the surface temperature of central areas of Manchester and Sheffield.
The data collected will be combined with climate change forecasts to produce a detailed picture of how urban heat islands push up the temperature during the hottest months.
One of the aims of the three-year study is to produce a series of tools, that will help planners, designers and engineers decide the best way of adapting the urban landscape to bring greater human comfort during hot and sticky spells.
The SCORCHIO project (Sustainable Cities : Options for Responding to Climate Change Impacts and Outcomes), is being led by The School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) at The University of Manchester.
The Universities of Newcastle, Sheffield and East Anglia, The Met Office Hadley Centre and The Tyndall Centre, are all working closely with researchers from Manchester on the 550,000 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded project.
Local authorities, planners, designers and engineers will be working with researchers to help realise the project goals.
As well as increasing levels of human comfort, adapting buildings will also help reduce harmful carbon emissions.
For example, reducing the amount of exterior glass could lower temperatures and cut the demand for electricity-hungry air conditioning systems and desk fans.
At the moment neither the effects on the urban landscape or the heat released by human activities within cities are considered in standard climate change research. But they have been shown to be potentially very significant.