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13 November 2014

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You are in: Manchester > Science > Science features > Save our cities

Fire rescue boat in floodwater [pic: Gtr Manchester Fire Service]

Cities must adapt, says University

Save our cities

Heat waves, flooding and subsidence: according to experts, what we can expect if we don’t adapt to climate change. But what can cities like Manchester realistically do? We find out.

Despite our best efforts to reduce, re-use and recycle, the major impact of climate change appears to be largely out of our control.

Sunny weather in Manchester

More heatwaves are forecast

As a consequence of the greenhouse effect, warmer temperatures and rising sea levels are expected to increase the incidence of flooding, droughts and extreme weather around the world.

But, according to scientists from the University of Manchester, there are still things we can do to mitigate the worst effects on urban areas.

And Manchester has a key role in a project to develop action plans and save our cities.

Green roofs

Dr Jeremy Carter from the University’s School of Environment & Development is leading a unique collaboration between eight EU countries to help cities prepare themselves for the stormy road ahead.

The pavilion's living roof (artist's impression)

A living roof in Piccadilly Gardens

He predicts that, as temperatures continue to rise, we can expect to see drier summers and wetter winters over the next century, increasing the risk of local flooding.

The key to our survival, he believes, lies in ‘greening our cities.’

"One of the ways we can do this is by increasing green space in the city centre, for example in parks, trees - and even creating 'living roofs' which involves increasing the level of greenery on flat roofs in the city centre," said Dr Carter.

"What this does is it helps to absorb rainwater. So rather than running straight off into the rivers in the city, the increase in greenery in the city centre would help to slow down the pace of the water reaching rivers thereby reducing flood risk."


As well as Manchester, the project, called Green and Blue Space Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change in Urban Areas and EcoTowns - or GraBS for short – involves cities or regions in seven other European countries.

Flood sign

Scientists say flooding will increase

According to Dr Carter, heat waves, flooding and subsidence will be the main threat to those cities which have been slow to change.

"Adaptation to climate change has up to recently been largely neglected by policy makers - and the press," he said.

"The focus has been much more firmly on emissions reductions. But adaptation is equally important because climate change will inevitably have an impact on us."

Eco Cities

Dr Carter is also working on a related project known as "Eco Cities" to develop Greater Manchester's first climate change adaptation strategy.

But why Manchester?

“We’ve just got a different climate to other cities in the network,” he said. “It’s also about sharing learning between different cities to make sure that we have a good comparison.

"Cities like Stockholm, Malmo, Amsterdam are much better adapted to climate change than some urban areas in Europe," he said.

“There are important lessons to be learnt and great strides can be made."

last updated: 14/01/2009 at 15:50
created: 12/01/2009

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