Implications of climate change for managing urban green infrastructure: an Indiana, US case study

Abstract

Urban areas around the world are increasingly investing in networks of urban forests, gardens, and other forms of green infrastructure for their benefits, including enhanced livability, sustainability, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Proactive planning for climate change requires anticipating potential climate change impacts to green infrastructure and adjusting management strategies accordingly. We apply climate change projections for the Midwest US state of Indiana to assess the possible impacts of climate change on common forms of urban green infrastructure and identify management implications. Projected changes in Indiana’s temperature and precipitation could pose numerous management challenges for urban green infrastructure, including water stress, pests, weeds, disease, invasive species, flooding, frost risk, and timing of maintenance. Meeting these challenges will involve managing for key characteristics of resilient systems (e.g., biodiversity, redundancy) as well as more specific strategies addressing particular climate changes (e.g., shifting species compositions, building soil water holding capacity). Climate change also presents opportunities to promote urban green infrastructure. Unlike human built infrastructure, green infrastructure is conducive to grassroots stewardship and governance, relieving climate change-related strains on municipal budgets. Resources for adapting urban green infrastructure to climate change are already being applied to the management of urban green infrastructure, and emerging research will enhance understanding of best management practices.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Kristin Shaw of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Joseph Jarzen of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Gwen White, other stakeholders, three anonymous reviewers, and Guest Editor Jeff Dukes for feedback that improved the manuscript, and we thank Kailey Marcinkowski for graphic design work. This work was supported by Indiana University’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenges initiative and Environmental Resilience Institute.

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Correspondence to Heather L Reynolds.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “The Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment” edited by Jeffrey Dukes, Melissa Widhalm, Daniel Vimont, and Linda Prokopy

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Reynolds, H.L., Brandt, L., Fischer, B.C. et al. Implications of climate change for managing urban green infrastructure: an Indiana, US case study. Climatic Change 163, 1967–1984 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02617-0

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Keywords

  • Indiana
  • Climate change impacts
  • Urban green infrastructure
  • Ecosystem services
  • Resilience
  • Urban forests