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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2019-225
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2019-225
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model description paper 05 Sep 2019

Submitted as: model description paper | 05 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD).

An urban ecohydrological model to quantify the effect of vegetation on urban climate and hydrology (UT&C v1.0)

Naika Meili1,2, Gabriele Manoli2,13, Paolo Burlando2, Elie Bou-Zeid3, Winston T. L. Chow4, Andrew M. Coutts5,6, Edoardo Daly7, Kerry A. Nice5,6,8, Matthias Roth9, Nigel J. Tapper5,6, Erik Velasco10, Enrique R. Vivoni11,12, and Simone Fatichi2 Naika Meili et al.
  • 1ETH Zurich, Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre, Singapore
  • 2Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, NJ, USA
  • 4School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University, Singapore
  • 5School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
  • 6Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, Melbourne, Australia
  • 7Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
  • 8Transport, Health, and Urban Design Hub, Faculty of Architecture, Building, and Planning, University of Melbourne,Victoria, Australia
  • 9Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • 10Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology, National Parks Board, Singapore
  • 11School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • 12School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • 13Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK

Abstract. Increasing urbanization is likely to intensify the urban heat island effect, decrease outdoor thermal comfort and enhance runoff generation in cities. Urban green spaces are often proposed as a mitigation strategy to counteract these adverse effects and many recent developments of urban climate models focus on the inclusion of green and blue infrastructure to inform urban planning. However, many models still lack the ability to account for different plant types and oversimplify the interactions between the built environment, vegetation, and hydrology. In this study, we present an urban ecohydrological model, Urban Tethys-Chloris (UT&C), that combines principles of ecosystem modelling with an urban canopy scheme accounting for the biophysical and ecophysiological characteristics of roof vegetation, ground vegetation and urban trees. UT&C is a fully coupled energy and water balance model that calculates 2 m air temperature, 2 m humidity, and surface temperatures based on the infinite urban canyon approach. It further calculates all urban hydrological fluxes, including transpiration as a function of plant photosynthesis. Hence, UT&C accounts for the effects of different plant types on the urban climate and hydrology, as well as the effects of the urban environment on plant well-being and performance. UT&C performs well when compared against energy flux measurements of eddy covariance towers located in three cities in different climates (Singapore, Melbourne, Phoenix). A sensitivity analysis, performed as a proof of concept for the city of Singapore, shows a mean decrease in 2 m air temperature of 1.1 °C for fully grass covered ground, 0.2 °C for high values of leaf area index (LAI), and 0.3 °C for high values of Vc,max (an expression of photosynthetic activity). These reductions in temperature were combined with a simultaneous increase in relative humidity by 6.5 %, 2.1 %, and 1.6 %, for fully grass covered ground, high values of LAI, and high values of Vc,max, respectively. Furthermore, the increase of pervious vegetated ground is able to significantly reduce surface runoff. These results show that urban greening can lead to a decrease in urban air temperature and surface runoff, but this effect is limited in cities characterized by a hot, humid climate.

Naika Meili et al.
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Naika Meili et al.
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Urban Tethys-Chloris (UT&C v1.0) N. Meili and S. Fatichi https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3377122

Naika Meili et al.
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Short summary
We developed a novel urban ecohydrological model (UT&C v1.0) that is able to account for the effects of different plant types on the urban climate and hydrology, as well as the effects of the urban environment on plant well-being and performance. UT&C performs well when compared against energy flux measurements in three cities in different climates (Singapore, Melbourne, Phoenix) and can be used to assess urban climate mitigation strategies that aim at increasing or changing urban green cover.
We developed a novel urban ecohydrological model (UT&C v1.0) that is able to account for the...
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