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Green or blue spaces? Assessment of the effectiveness and costs to mitigate the urban heat island in a Latin American city


We measured air temperature at 14 sites with different land cover composition within the urban canopy layer of a mid-sized Brazilian city. The intensity (ΔT) of the urban heat island (UHI) was calculated using data collected above a lake and at an urban park as references. We investigated the spatio-temporal variability of ΔT during four contiguous days with varying weather. The first day was overcast and rainy, giving rise to a moderate UHI. The second day was sunny, which caused the diurnal ΔT fields to become  heterogeneous, due to larger heating rates at sites with more man-made surfaces compared to natural surfaces. A high-pressure system observed on the last days brought cloudless skies, causing smaller ΔT during the day and greater at night. We hypothesise that the effect was due to the reduction of cooling via evapotranspiration caused by closing of the stomata as the soil dried out, which reduced the daytime temperature differences among the sites. The night-time effect was caused by stronger radiative cooling due to clear skies. The temperature within the park was always lower than over the lake, confirming that urban forestry is a more effective mechanism to combat the UHI. Introducing a park would be about sevenfold cheaper than building a city pond. Hence, green spaces are not only more efficient to combat the UHI but it is also a cheaper strategy compared to blue spaces. Moreover, vegetation delivers other benefits, such as removal of air pollutants, attenuation of urban noise, improvement of city aesthetic and their use as recreational spaces.

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We are grateful to those individuals and companies that hosted the temperature sensors during the measurement campaign and the Fire Brigade of Londrina who helped install the air temperature sensors.


This work was supported by Fundação Araucária of Paraná (grant number 470/2010).

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Correspondence to Admir Créso Targino.

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Targino, A.C., Coraiola, G.C. & Krecl, P. Green or blue spaces? Assessment of the effectiveness and costs to mitigate the urban heat island in a Latin American city. Theor Appl Climatol 136, 971–984 (2019).

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  • Urban climate
  • Urban greenery
  • Air temperature field
  • Surface energy balance