Turning down the heat

People living in urban locations are especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of increased temperatures, resulting from climate change and urban heat island effects. As urban areas grow and redevelop then, it is important for urban planners to implement policies that protect city dwellers from heat exposure.

In this article for Science of the Total Environment, CAUL Hub researchers analysed the relationship between urban vegetation and land surface temperatures. Using satellite data and high resolution aerial imagery, the researchers assessed how different urban vegetation configurations, such as trees, shrubs and grass, could reduce temperatures in cities. In their case study of Perth, the researchers found that an increase in urban vegetation reduced summer and winter land surface temperatures, and that this effect was larger in summer months. They also found that increased tree and shrub cover had a larger cooling effect than grass coverage.

These findings illustrate the exciting potential to develop locally-detailed and spatially explicit tools to guide planning of vegetation configuration to maximise cooling in urban areas.

Featured image credit: Cecily Maller

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