Greening the desert- Tucson Arizona

Measures heatstress

Climate adaptive green

Problem area - heatstress urban area

Climate adaptation - drought measures

Created at: 14 May 2022

Description

YouTube: One of the most sustainable desert cities on earth is Tucson which is situated in the Western United States in Southern Arizona known for its desert climate, with very hot summers and mild winters.

The climate has meant Arizona has been a hub for agricultural growth for thousands of years which has attracted people from all over the world seeking new economic opportunities.

Since the invention of the portable air conditioner in the 1950s the population and economy of Arizona has increased dramatically.

As a result The cities of Phoenix and Tucson have developed large, sprawling suburban areas which have increased the heat island effect.

The heat island effect is when urbanized areas experience higher temperatures than outlying natural surrounding areas. Structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun's heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and water bodies.

This research paper: Anthropogenic heating of the urban environment due to air conditioning, from the Arizona university showed that: during the night, heat emitted from AC systems increased the mean 2 m-air temperature by more than 1 °C for some urban locations.

Some of the most sort after and popular green neighborhoods in the state have extensive lawns and unfortunately these grass lawns need vast amounts of watering to stay green, and in such a drought prone state, this is not sustainable.

Since the water used to keep grasses green all year around, is the same water people used to drink, the water has been treated and filtered, which is costly and uses resources, the water is over extracted from wells, or dammed and this diverted water from rivers and springs is used faster than rainfall can replenish them.

These non native grasses often require pesticides and need to be managed with petrol driven gardening tools, which pollute the watershed around the home.

The urban environment also prevents ground water from recharging, water rapidly runs off paved surfaces, instead of being absorbed into the aquifers. As we keep consuming the ancient groundwater, without it being replenished, water tables drop and rivers start to dry up

In response the city of Tucson is going to be making some incredible green infrastructure innovations to combat the heat island effect, using very simple and cost effective techniques to become the leading green carbon neutral city by 2030 this can be considered a major accomplishment for any city, especially one that only receives approximately 12 inches of rainfall per year.


Samenvatting (Dutch description)

De stad Tucson ligt in de staat Arizona en heeft een probleem met verwoestijning. Door de woestijn te laten begroeien proberen ze het tij te keren.

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