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New journal explores urban climate change

Matthias Ruth, a pro­fessor with joint appoint­ments in the Col­lege of Engi­neering and the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties, is the co-​​editor in chief of a new aca­d­emic journal that takes an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary look at the rela­tion­ship between urban dynamics and cli­mate change.

“We have long thought about changing the global cli­mate problem through global accords—which have had lim­ited suc­cess, at best—and with this journal we want to look back at what cities can do to change cli­mate on their own,” said Ruth, who is editing the journal with Alexander Bak­lanov of the Danish Mete­o­ro­log­ical Insti­tute in Copen­hagen, Den­mark. “Within our own envi­ron­ment, there is so much we can do to impact cli­mate, which is increas­ingly becoming a focus for cli­mate researchers.”

The first issue of Urban Cli­mate was released last month.

The first issue of the journal, Urban Cli­mate, was released last month, and another issue is due before the end of the year. It will be avail­able for free online for at least the first two years of its pub­li­ca­tion. The journal has already received more than 100 sub­mis­sions that focus on a range of topics, including urban envi­ron­mental health, energy use, and public trans­porta­tion in cities around the globe.

“More people live in cities than any­where else now, so there is a recog­ni­tion that we need to look at cli­mate change at an urban level,” Ruth said. “We see this as a journal that equally addresses social and envi­ron­mental issues, bringing them together at the local, urban scale.”

Ruth, who joined the North­eastern fac­ulty this fall, takes an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach toward the study of cli­mate change and sus­tain­ability. He works at the fore­front of eco­log­ical eco­nomics, which focuses on devel­oping methods that inte­grate insights from eco­nomics, engi­neering, and the life sciences.

In a letter to col­leagues pub­lished in the journal’s first issue, Ruth and Bak­lanov described their goals, saying that the publication’s research would closely examine the rela­tion­ship between cli­mate and urban areas, aiming to shape decision-​​making and policy moving forward.

“Cli­mate con­di­tions play a par­tic­ular role in this con­text not just because cli­mate change poses new chal­lenges for any large agglom­er­a­tion of people, infra­struc­tures, insti­tu­tions, and ecosys­tems, but also because urban areas can play a lead role in humanity’s quest for a rela­tion­ship with the nat­ural envi­ron­ment that allows soci­eties to prosper and flourish for a long time to come,” the two edi­tors wrote. “Urban cli­mate, as a topic of research and focus for deci­sion making, sub­sumes many of these chal­lenges. … Being able to assist in that knowl­edge sharing and knowl­edge gen­er­a­tion will, no doubt, be a great oppor­tu­nity to which we look forward.”

– by Matt Collette

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