A Solution To Cut Extreme Heat By Up To 6 Degrees Is In Our Own Backyards

A Solution To Cut Extreme Heat By Up To 6 Degrees Is In Our Own Backyards Milleflore Images/Shutterstock

Australia just experienced the second-warmest summer on record, with 2019 being the hottest year. Summer temperatures soared across the country, causing great economic and human loss. The good news is we can do something about this in our own backyards. We have found trees and vegetation can lower local land temperatures by up to 5-6℃ on days of extreme heat.

Our newly published research into a summer heatwave in Adelaide suggests that a simple solution to extreme heat is literally at everyone’s doorstep. It relies on the trees, the grasses and the vegetation in our own backyards.

What did the study show?

During a three-day heatwave that hit Adelaide in 2017, AdaptWest took to the skies to measure land surface temperatures from an aircraft. Our analysis of the data collected on that day suggests urban trees and grasses can lower daytime land temperatures by up to 5-6℃ during extreme heat.

A Solution To Cut Extreme Heat By Up To 6 Degrees Is In Our Own Backyards Effect of vegetated and non-vegetated cover on daytime land surface temperatures recorded in 120,000 land units in western Adelaide during a three-day heatwave. Ossola et al., 2020. https://doi.org/10.25949/5df2ef1637124

The largest temperature reductions were in the hottest suburbs and those further away from the coast. These significant reductions were mostly achieved thanks to backyard trees.

So this benefit that urban trees provide has two key aspects:

  • maximum cooling happens when needed the most – during days of unbearable heat.

  • maximum cooling happens where needed the most – close to us, the people, in the communities where we live.

Our analysis also shows the humble home garden more than pulls its weight when it comes to reducing extreme urban heat and its harmful effects. Although yards and gardens cover only about 20% of urban land, these private spaces provide more than 40% of the tree cover and 30% of grass cover across western Adelaide. This is comparable to what can be found in many other Australian cities and towns.

A Solution To Cut Extreme Heat By Up To 6 Degrees Is In Our Own Backyards Daytime thermal imaging of land surface temperature in Walkley Heights, Adelaide, taken from an aircraft (inset) on February 9 2017 at the peak of a three-day 40°C heatwave. The area on the right is cooler (blue shades) because of greater vegetation cover. In the hotter area on the left (red shades) a residential development built in 2003 has smaller yards with less tree cover. AdaptWest and Airborne Research Australia

In fact, private tree canopy cover is considerably greater than that of typical urban parks or public green areas. This means these private green spaces are a vital yet often overlooked resource for fighting extreme heat.

Planning climate-ready cities

Climate models and projections predict extreme heat days and heatwaves will become more frequent and intense. Penrith reached 48.9℃ on January 4 this year, making Western Sydney the hottest place on Earth that day. Given that heatwaves are already considered Australia’s deadliest climate-related disaster, the forecast temperatures pose an urgent threat to human livelihoods.

A Solution To Cut Extreme Heat By Up To 6 Degrees Is In Our Own Backyards Number of very hot days (maximum above 40°C) per year and trend line (running 10-year average) for Australia. Bureau of Meteorology, CC BY

Urban planning is increasingly having to take extreme temperatures into account. For instance, the City of Sydney recently announced an ambitious policy to increase urban green cover to 40% by 2050 for climate change resilience. Currently, this level of green cover is found in only a handful of suburbs in cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

To achieve such ambitious and life-sustaining goals, our results point to the need to retain, protect and enhance urban greenery in our own yards. As our cities become increasingly dense, people’s trees and yards can play an invaluable role in adapting to climate change.

Most council, state and federal policies to date have neglected yards and their trees when thinking about climate change adaptation. When envisioning how Australian cities should grow, develop and thrive, more attention has to be given to the spaces where our yards and trees can help reduce the catastrophic effects of a warming climate on people and communities, right at our doorstep.

Climate change is causing a social, cultural and political revolution. It calls for bold, decisive and immediate action. This is a lifetime opportunity for smart and proactive planning, policy-making and community action. This work needs to begin now.

Urban forests don’t grow quickly, however. We need to be encouraging low-water-use grass and shrub covers as a fast interim strategy for urban cooling.

This is a stopgap measure until a large army of climate-ready tree soldiers, that we can decide to plant today, take over the job of fighting climate change and extreme heat in our future cities.

About The Author

Alessandro Ossola, Research Coordinator - Smart Green Cities, Macquarie University; Leigh Staas, Associate Director for Engagement & Research Partnerships | Smart Green Cities, Macquarie University, and Michelle Leishman, Distinguished Professor, Director of Smart Green Cities, Macquarie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer
9780143130444In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. Available On Amazon

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy

by Hal Harvey, Robbie Orvis, Jeffrey Rissman
1610919564With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions is nothing less than urgent. It’s a daunting challenge, but the technologies and strategies to meet it exist today. A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well. Available On Amazon

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

by Naomi Klein
1451697392In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

green energy2 3
Four Green Hydrogen Opportunities for the Midwest
by Christian Tae
To avert a climate crisis, the Midwest, like the rest of the country, will need to fully decarbonize its economy by…
ug83qrfw
Major Barrier to Demand Response Needs to End
by John Moore, On Earth
If federal regulators do the right thing, electricity customers across the Midwest may soon be able to earn money while…
trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.