J11.3 A Wedge Strategy for Mitigation of Urban Warming in Future Climate Scenarios

Thursday, 26 January 2017: 12:00 AM
Conference Center: Tahoma 2 (Washington State Convention Center )
Lei Zhao, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; and X. Lee, N. M. Schultz, and M. Oppenheimer

Heat stress is one of the most severe climate threats to the human society in a future warmer world. The situation is further compounded in urban areas by the urban heat island (UHI). Because the majority of the world’s population is projected to live in cities, there is a pressing need to find effective solutions for the high temperature problem. It is now recognized that in addition to the traditional emphasis on preparedness to cope with heat stress, these solutions should include active modifications of urban land form to reduce urban temperatures.  Here we use an urban climate model to investigate the effectiveness of these active methods in mitigating the urban heat, both individually and collectively. By adopting highly reflective roofs citywide, almost all the cities in the USA and in southern Canada are transformed into cold islands or “white oases” where the daytime surface temperatures are lower than those in the surrounding rural land. The average oasis effect is -3.4 ± 0.3 K (mean ± 1 standard error) for the period 2071-2100 under the RCP4.5 scenario.  A UHI mitigation wedge strategy consisting of cool roof, street vegetation and reflective pavement has the potential to eliminate the daytime UHI plus the greenhouse gas induced warming.
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