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The effects of urban development and current green infrastructure policy on future climate change resilience

Charlotte Shade, Department of Geography & the Environment, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA
Peleg Kremer, Department of Geography & the Environment, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA
Julia S. Rockwell, Climate Change Adaptation Program, Office of Watersheds, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Keith G. Henderson, Department of Geography & the Environment, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12076-250437

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Abstract

Governments around the world are beginning to plan for the effects of climate change. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, the city is implementing a variety of green infrastructure practices through the program Green Cities, Clean Waters to meet state and federal stormwater regulations. Though not a current goal of the program, when implemented effectively, a cobenefit of green infrastructure is increased local resilience to potential ecosystem alterations, such as increasing summer temperatures and heavier precipitation, also defined as climate change adaptation. We analyzed the potential of the Green City, Clean Waters plan to increase the city’s resilience to the future consequences of climate change. Three future landcover models of Philadelphia were used to analyze climate change adaptation through green infrastructure in the near term, midcentury, and end of century under two climate change scenarios. Green infrastructure was overall found to locally decrease runoff throughout Philadelphia over time. Green infrastructure impact on surface temperature showed mixed results. Impact on runoff and surface temperature differed between types of green infrastructure. As the city is forecasted to grow warmer, wetter, and more urbanized over the century, runoff and local temperatures will increase on average throughout the city, despite the planned growth in green infrastructure. If increased resilience is to keep pace with climate change, the city government will need to expand its green infrastructure plan and consider the cobenefit of climate change adaptation when planning new projects. Additionally, for true climate change resiliency to be achieved, green infrastructure implementation must be connected to citywide greening efforts, accelerate and continue beyond the near term for localities to function as they do today.

Key words

climate change resilience; cobenefits; green stormwater infrastructure; urban stormwater runoff; urban surface temperature

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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