Towards planning and practical understanding of the need for meteorological and climatic information in the design of high-density cities: A case-based study of Hong Kong



More than half the world's population lives in cities. In tropical and subtropical regions, the growth of mega and compact cities are on the rise. The urban climatic issues of heat, humidity, lack of daylight, solar access, and urban ventilation is of topical concern to urban planners and governments. This paper puts forward a notion that a well established view of the low impact of urban climate on planning may be due to the lack of planning on the part of urban climatologists. Overly detailed and precise meteorological information, and excessively sophisticated climatic explanations and knowledge presentation do not help planners; information overload makes planners feel discouraged and ill equipped. In this paper, the understanding of Hong Kong based on the scale of planned decision making is elaborated with examples. Urban climatic information must be presented sequentially to fit the hierarchal process of planning and land use decision making. For better transfer of knowledge and communication, ‘prevailing’ and ‘criticality’ should be observed; information overload must be avoided, and spatial information must be presented graphically whenever possible. Scholars have argued that instead of the need for precision and accuracy, most of the time planners need to make balanced and reasonable decisions. Simplicity is the key. Furthermore, the advent of rapid urbanisation in the age of climate change further endows urban climatologists the burden to develop appropriate and easy-to-understand urban climate knowledge for planners. Resolving something complicated into something simple for planners is the only way forward. Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society