Implementation of urban heat island (UHI) mitigation strategies such as increased vegetative cover and higher-albedo surface materials can reduce the impacts of biophysical hazards in cities, including heat stress related to elevated temperatures, air pollution and associated public health effects. Such strategies also can lower the demand for air-conditioning-related energy production. Since local impacts of global climate change may be intensified in areas with UHIs, mitigation strategies could play an increasingly important role as individuals and communities adapt to climate change. We use CITYgreen, a GIS-based modeling application, to estimate the potential benefits of urban vegetation and reflective roofs as UHI mitigation strategies for case study sites in and around Newark and Camden, New Jersey. The analysis showed that urban vegetation can reduce health hazards associated with the UHI effect by removing pollutants from the air. Less affluent, inner-city neighborhoods are the ones in which the hazard potential of the UHI effect is shown to be greatest. However, these neighborhoods have less available open space for tree planting and therefore a lower maximum potential benefit. As the climate warms, these neighborhoods may face greater consequences due to interactions between the UHI effect and global climate change. Results also show that urban vegetation is an effective and economically efficient way to reduce energy consumption and costs at the sites.
- New Jersey
- Urban heat island