URBANEARS scientist successfully defended her doctoral dissertation

#STEREO, #Urban, #Climate change

Published on 18 October 2018

On September 27th, Marie-Leen Verdonck  (of URBANEARS fame) successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled "The potential of Local Climate Zones as a heat assessment tool in Belgium".

Brief Curriculum Vitae

Marie-Leen Verdonck was born in Turnhout, Belgium on July 6th, 1989. She finished her secondary school at Sint-Jozefscollege Turnhout in 2007, after which she started her studies to become a Bioscience Engineer. She finished her Master's degree in Forest and Nature Management at Ghent University in 2013. She initiated her PhD in the framework of a BELSPO project Urban Ecosystem Analysis supported by Remote Sensing (UrbanEARS), under the guidance of Prof. dr. ir. Frieke Van Coillie and Dr. Matthias Demuzere.

She has already presented her work at several international conferences and contributed to eleven manuscripts. 

Abstract of the doctoral research

Similar to urban areas worldwide, Belgian cities are facing the consequences of rising global temperatures. It is acknowledged that many urbanized areas are currently exposed to a phenomenon called the urban heat island (UHI), which manifests itself in higher temperatures in cities compared to the rural surroundings. Besides, cities exhibit thermal differences depending on the urban morphology, building materials, anthropogenic heat, etc. By using the local climate zone (LCZ) scheme, urban areas can be divided in different zones based on their form and function. A first objective in this manuscript is to understand the way cities are mapped into LCZs, and to provide a framework to improve mapping results globally. A second objective is to enhance our understanding of within-city thermal differences by using these maps in the local-scale urban climate model UrbClim. We thermally evaluate the local climate zones in three Belgian cities and link the thermal behavior of the respective zones to the prevailing heat stress. As a final objective, projections for the future are made. We adopt urban planning visions to develop LCZ maps for the future city of Brussels. Using the urban climate model UrbClim, future thermal behavior under different greenhouse gas scenarios is simulated and evaluated. The results of this manuscript aim to provide guidance in decision-making processes, tackling heat related issues in current and future cities.