Albedo Modification Potential in European Cities

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Earth currently transitions from a mostly rural to a mostly urban planet; from 2000 until 2030 the urbanized areas will nearly triple (Seto et al. 2012). The use of dark building materials, such as asphalt and concrete, leads to a lower albedo in urbanized areas than in natural environment (Rosenzweig et al. 2011), fostering local and global warming. In turn, the increase in urban albedo might support climate stabilization efforts (REF). Here we investigate the potential effect of the increase in albedo in a representative set of European cities relying on three metrics: a) instantaneous radiative forcing; b) urban cooling; c) reduction in mortality. We find a distinct but surprising geographical variation of the radiative forcing potential. Central European cities can as effectively change radiative forcing as Southern European cities, reflecting their sometimes relatively larger urban area. However, the more local metrics of urban cooling and especially the resulting health impact display the highest benefits of albedo modifications in Southern European cities, emphasizing the need for a geographically stratified albedo policies to maximize benefits.
Mitigating and adapting to climate change is one of the grand challenges of our times (GEA 2012). As on international level progress in addressing climate change remains stuck in complicated negotiations (Edenhofer et al. 2013), cities might be the appropriate spatial scale to address multi-faceted challenges such as climate change (Barber, 2013). Albeit cities’ decision makers reluctantly react to top-down imposed mitigation and adaptation plans (Reckien et al. 2014), they successfully implement local measures pursuing co-benefits and cost-savings deriving by climate change mitig...

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