Thermal walk for fundamental and applied research

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation-


The thermal walk investigates the influence of urban design on the thermal experience of pedestrians moving through a certain urban area. Thermal walks are often used by scientists to understand how residents experience heat in urban areas. However, thermal walks can also be beneficial to urban professionals working at local governments that need to adapt urban areas to rising temperatures. Thermal walks can answer their questions such as: How hot is a shopping street, a residential area, a specific walking route through the city or a station area? Which adjustments are needed to create cool spaces? Which factors determine whether the outdoor space is hot or cool and which of these factors can be included in a heat-resilient design? A thermal walk reveals and lets participants experience which urban designs are hottest, coolest or most pleasant, and which factors play a role. Therefore, thermal walks can help urban professionals by:
1. giving insight into the phenomenon of urban heat and the factors that lead to a heat resilient design;
2. mapping the heat resilience of a specific area and understanding which adjustments can help to create a cool areas.
During a summer day in 2019, we used the thermal walk to investigate the heat resilience of the walking routes on a former historic naval base in the city center of Amsterdam and to give the participants insight into the phenomenon of urban heat. In groups of 10, the participants examined the thermal situation at four different locations: along water, in a shady park, under a street tree, and in a paved sunlit environment. Among the participants were policy advisers and urban designers. Their answers and comments showed that the thermal walk is a good way to explore and experience the influence of greenery, water and space on air temperature, thermal sensation and thermal experience. Eye openers among the participants were that the air temperature at the various locations did not differ greatly from each other and that shadow can greatly reduce thermal sensation. The participants were surprised that water was not measured and experienced as the coolest place. In addition, their comments showed that a thermal walk can be a useful tool to explore and discuss the subject of urban heat with colleagues and municipal administrations in the adaptation planning process towards heat-resistant cities.
Period2 Mar 2020
Event titleSymposium on Challenges in Applied Human Biometeorology
Event typeConference
LocationFreiburg, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational