Saturday, February 27, 2016

Madrid is covering itself in plants to help fight rising temperatures

Vacant lots, city squares, a former highway, and even regular city streets are going to be filled up with trees and plants—everywhere you look.

Madrid is spending millions to expand existing parks, and as many roofs and walls will be covered with greenery as possible.
It's all part of sweeping plan to help adapt to some of the biggest challenges the city faces from climate change: More blisteringly hot days, more severe drought, and—when it does rain—heavier floods.

Madrid has always been hot in the summer, but it's getting hotter. During a heat wave in 2015, 104-degree days broke the city's all-time records for the month of June and July. Heat waves that used to happen once every two decades now happen every five years. By 2050, there will be 20% more unusually hot days in the summer, and it will rain 20% less.

Each of the planned changes in landscaping can help. Planting gardens on roofs, and adding plants on outdoor walls, helps insulate buildings so they can save energy, and helps reduce street noise. But it also helps bring down local temperatures by shading pavement and by releasing evaporated water that can create clouds. In pilot green roof tests in some Madrid neighborhoods, temperatures went down more than four degrees. Replacing paved squares with plantings that can absorb and store water will help the city cope with more frequent heavy rain.

Adding vegetation can also help the city with its smog problem. Madrid, one of the most polluted cities in Europe, bans some traffic and makes public transit free on the filthiest days, and will ban diesel cars in the city center by 2020. Plants can help more, because keeping the temperature cooler helps prevent ozone-forming pollution. A 2015 study suggested that "industrial-scale" tree planting is an important way that cities can fight pollution.

What's happening in Madrid should happen everywhere.

extracts; source

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