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Urban tree planting to maintain outdoor thermal comfort under climate change: The case of Vancouver's local climate zones

Journal article
Authors M. Aminipouri
D.P. Rayner
Fredrik Lindberg
Sofia Thorsson
A. J. Knudby
K. Zickfeld
A. Middel
E. S. Krayenhoff
Published in Building and Environment
Volume 158
Pages 226-236
ISSN 0360-1323
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 226-236
Language en
Keywords Mean radiant temperature, SOLWEIG, Local climate zones, Extreme radiant thermal exposure, Heat mitigation, Street trees, mean radiant temperature, heat-stress, solar-radiation, mitigation, mortality, impact, freiburg, islands, cities, spaces, Construction & Building Technology, Engineering
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Spatiotemporal variation of mean radiant temperature (Tmrt), a major driver of outdoor human thermal comfort, is driven by exposure to solar and longwave radiation, which in turn respond to local patterns of shading, wind speed, air humidity and air temperature. In this study, the SOlar and LongWave Environmental Irradiance Geometry (SOLWEIG) model was used to simulate how changes in minimum and maximum air temperature and solar radiation under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 climate projections would change Tmrt in Vancouver over the 2070-2100 period. With micrometeorological variables representative of a changed climate, days with Tmrt above 65 degrees C were predicted to increase three-to five-fold under RCP 4.5 and 8.5, respectively. SOLWEIG was also used to quantify the potential of maximum feasible street tree cover to reduce Tmrt for the hottest day on record for Vancouver (July 29, 2009), and an end-of-century hot day under the two future climate scenarios. SOLWEIG simulations with maximum feasible street tree cover under RCP 4.5 demonstrated an average reduction of 1.3 degrees C in Tmrt, compared to the contemporary extreme heat day with current street trees. However, average Tmrt increased by 1.9 degrees C under the RCP 8.5 scenario even with maximum feasible street tree cover, relative to the contemporary extreme heat day. We conclude that adding street trees has the potential to offset Tmrt increases under the RCP 4.5 scenario, however this measure is insufficient to maintain contemporary Tmrt under the RCP 8.5 scenario.

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