EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A global Local Climate Zone map: revealing intra-urban heterogeneity.

Jonas Kittner1, Matthias Demuzere1, Gerald Mills2, Christian Moede1, Dev Niyogi3, Jasper van Vliet4, and Benjamin Bechtel1
Jonas Kittner et al.
  • 1Ruhr University Bochum, Institute of Geography, Urban Climatology Group, Bochum, Germany
  • 2School of Geography, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • 3Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, and Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
  • 4Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081, HV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

There is a scientific consensus on the need for spatially detailed information on urban landscapes at a global scale to support a range of environmental services, as cities are acknowledged as places of: intense resource consumption and waste generation and foci of population and infrastructure that are exposed to multiple hazards of natural and anthropogenic origin. In the face of climate change, urban data is also required for future urbanisation pathways and urban design strategies, in order to “lock in” long-term resilience and sustainability, protecting cities from future decisions that could undermine their adaptability. Eventually, these global form-based, contextually specific urban planning and urban design strategies are the ultimate guarantors of successful life cycle costs, payback, and liveability. Moreover, these strategies are needed to identify the relevant data for planning and climate on neighbourhood, city and global scales, and to become part of a basic infrastructure to support a host of studies on exposure to environmental hazards, energy demand, climate adaptation and mitigation solutions and human health, as examples. 

Therefore, a more holistic urban landscape description is required, that goes beyond the urban mask and that enables the assessment of the spatial impact of urban planning decisions that will alter urban canopy parameters (UCPs) and their climate outcome. 

The global Local Climate Zone (LCZ) map presented here serves this purpose, as the LCZ typology is the only universal classification that can distinguish urban surfaces on a holistic basis, accounting for the typical combination of micro-scale land-covers and associated physical properties, all being the consequence of historic urbanisation patterns that reflect local terrain, culture, economy, etc. The 100m resolution global LCZ map is generated by feeding an unprecedented amount of labelled training areas (partly sourced from the LCZ Generator - and earth observation imagery into lightweight random forest models. Its quality is assessed using the default bootstrap-based cross validation alongside a thematic benchmark for 150 selected functional urban areas using independent global and open- source data on surface cover, surface imperviousness, anthropogenic heat and building height.

Complementing the single cities‘ LCZ maps accessible via the LCZ Generator, the global LCZ map for the first time reveals the world‘s intra-urban heterogeneity heterogeinity. In addition, as each LCZ type is associated with generic numerical descriptions of key UCPs, parameters critical to model atmospheric responses to urbanisation, the availability of this globally consistent and climate-relevant urban description is an essential prerequisite for developing fit-for-purpose integrated climate-sensitive urban planning policies.

How to cite: Kittner, J., Demuzere, M., Mills, G., Moede, C., Niyogi, D., van Vliet, J., and Bechtel, B.: A global Local Climate Zone map: revealing intra-urban heterogeneity., EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-6213,, 2022.