Global climate-driven trade-offs between the water retention and cooling benefits of urban greening

Cuthbert, M.O., Rau, G.C., Ekström, M., O’Carroll, D.M. and Bates, A.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-7854-5260, 2022. Global climate-driven trade-offs between the water retention and cooling benefits of urban greening. Nature Communications, 13 (1): 518.

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Abstract

Urban greening can potentially help mitigate heat-related mortality and flooding facing the >4 billion urban population worldwide. However, the geographical variation of the relative combined hydrological and thermal performance benefits of such interventions are unknown. Here we quantify globally, using a hydrological model, how climate-driven trade-offs exist between hydrological retention and cooling potential of urban greening such as green roofs and parks. Using a Budyko framework, we show that water retention generally increases with aridity in water-limited environments, while cooling potential favors energy-limited climates. Our models suggest that common urban greening strategies cannot yield high performance simultaneously for addressing both urban heat-island and urban flooding problems in most cities globally. Irrigation, if sustainable, may enhance cooling while maintaining retention performance in more arid locations. Increased precipitation variability with climate change may reduce performance of thinner green-infrastructure more quickly compared to greened areas with thicker soils and root systems. Our results provide a conceptual framework and first-order quantitative guide for urban development, renewal and policymaking.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Nature Communications
Creators: Cuthbert, M.O., Rau, G.C., Ekström, M., O’Carroll, D.M. and Bates, A.J.
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Date: 26 January 2022
Volume: 13
Number: 1
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1038/s41467-022-28160-8DOI
1512769Other
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 01 Feb 2022 09:25
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2022 09:25
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/45466

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