With more than half the Earth’s population now living in urban areas, some changes in the indoor and outdoor climates of cities are bound to occur. Climate scientists’ greatest concern is traditionally the urban heat island (UHI) effect – city areas where temperatures can be several degrees higher because there is lots of concrete and little blue or green infrastructure like lakes, rivers and parks. But another effect – air flow – can also cause serious health problems.
Skyscrapers or other prominent buildings change the wind flow through a city, which can, for example, interfere with the intake of fresh air in buildings. Air pollution at street level can also worsen, or wind can strengthen and hinder pedestrians or cyclists or even compromise safety.
The problem has been described in scientific papers, including a survey by the US National Library of Medicine that examines “High-Rise Buildings versus Outdoor Thermal Environment in Chongqing” and concludes that cities can improve their urban thermal environment if they change their architectural and engineering structures and layouts.