The role of one large greenspace in mitigating London's nocturnal urban heat island

Kieron J Doick, Andrew Peace, Tony R Hutchings
Science of the Total Environment 2014 September 15, 493: 662-71
The term urban heat island (UHI) describes a phenomenon where cities are on average warmer than the surrounding rural area. Trees and greenspaces are recognised for their strong potential to regulate urban air temperatures and combat the UHI. Empirical data is required in the UK to inform predictions on cooling by urban greenspaces and guide planning to maximise cooling of urban populations. We describe a 5-month study to measure the temperature profile of one of central London's large greenspaces and also in an adjacent street to determine the extent to which the greenspace reduced night-time UHI intensity. Statistical modelling displayed an exponential decay in the extent of cooling with increased distance from the greenspace. The extent of cooling ranged from an estimated 20 m on some nights to 440 m on other nights. The mean temperature reduction over these distances was 1.1 °C in the summer months, with a maximum of 4 °C cooling observed on some nights. Results suggest that calculation of London's UHI using Met Stations close to urban greenspace can underestimate 'urban' heat island intensity due to the cooling effect of the greenspace and values could be in the region of 45% higher. Our results lend support to claims that urban greenspace is an important component of UHI mitigation strategies. Lack of certainty over the variables that govern the extent of the greenspace cooling influence indicates that the multifaceted roles of trees and greenspaces in the UK's urban environment merit further consideration.

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