Improving Blue and Green Infrastructure to Counteract Increasing Urban Temperatures

by Deniz Korman

Urban areas experience higher temperatures compared to rural areas, and it is likely that this will lead to health risks within urban communities due extreme heat in the future. However, we have the power to minimize this effect by improving the infrastructures of our cities. An effective way to lower urban temperatures is increasing vegetation and water surfaces, which also provides the added benefit of increasing urban biodiversity, and improving air quality. While this known to be a valid strategy, the magnitude of the climate impact that such an improvement will have when applied on a city scale is unknown. Žuvela-Aloise et al. (2016) have modeled the potential of improving green and blue infrastructure within Vienna, and identified the ways in which changes should be applied in order to counteract urban warming as effectively as possible.

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Satellite Remote Sensing of Permafrost

by Lindsay McCord

Using a new approach to measure the extent of permafrost (permanently frozen soil), researchers have confirmed consistent widespread decline in stable permafrost that coincides with regional climate warming. This model provides greater resolution for looking at the condition of permafrost on a regional scale, and combined with other models, allows us to understand how permafrost is reacting to rising temperatures. Permafrost occupies roughly a quarter of land area in the Northern Hemisphere, over 40% of which is vulnerable to melting according to the new model. Twenty percent of permafrost land area is at a moderate risk, while 23% is facing severe degradation risk. In addition, the study found that permafrosts in boreal forests are more vulnerable than the more northern tundra permafrost. The model further confirms significant increasing regional trends of permafrost melting in the past 30 years in response to climate warming. Continue reading

Comprehensive and Sustainable Water Management in the Netherlands

by Lazaros M. K. Chalkias

The Netherlands has been harvesting the benefits of major European rivers (Rhine, Meuse), of accessibility to the sea and high precipitation at the cost of a constant struggle for safety and survival from the elements themselves. These conditions have bestowed great responsibility to the government to plan and prepare for disasters of drought and flood. Following the 1976 drought, the idea of an integrated water management tool was conceived for use in research and policy making. De Lange et al. (2014) review the outcomes of this integrated water system analysis, as accounted for in the most recent updated of the Netherlands Hydrological Instrument (NHI). According to the outcomes of the research, surface water is managed based on surpluses or shortage, its salt content, and its temperature in an attempt to maximize efficiency for agriculture and consumer uses, preservation of natural resources, and other uses. Continue reading