Green Cities and Microclimate

Urbanisation alters natural water flows, biodiversity, carbon cycles, air pollution levels and ultimately, the climate of local and regional environments. This effect is mainly the result of increasing levels of impervious surfaces across landscapes, at the expense of the natural vegetation of the area. The characteristic impervious surfaces of an urban area cause warming of the immediate environment or microclimate, which results in an Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect across a city scale. This urban warming occurs in addition to current climate change effects, which has caused Australian cities to experience higher temperatures, with some also receiving less rainfall. The combined effect of reduced irrigation regimes and climate change is producing desert-like urban centres across Australia. With the projected increases in extreme heat-related events from climate change, this excess warmth will negatively impact upon the liveability of cities and the health of their residents.

It is the aim of the Green Cities and Microclimate Program to determine the urban microclimate advantages of decentralised stormwater harvesting solutions, green infrastructure and technologies. Additionally, it is an objective to provide potential multiple benefits of stormwater harvesting strategies for the improvement of urban climate, carbon sequestration, stormwater runoff and air quality. These endeavours are directed to achieve the ultimate aim of improving the thermal comfort, health and well-being of residents of urban areas.

The Program explores 3 different thematic areas:

The Green Cities and Microclimate Program is intimately linked with the research being undertaken under the Cities as Water Supply Catchments Program, in particular the work of Project 3 (Green Cities and Microclimate), the aim of which is to identify and demonstrate the social and institutional ingredients to proactively advance the mainstream application of decentralised stormwater harvesting across Australian cities.

For a full list of publications relating to the Urban Water Governance Program, see the Publications section of the website.

To find out who’s part of the Urban Water Governance Program, please refer to the People section of this Program.