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Urban adaptation can roll back warming of emerging megapolitan regions

OPEN Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 12 Feb 2014

M Georgescu, PE Morefield, BG Bierwagen and CP Weaver
Abstract
Modeling results incorporating several distinct urban expansion futures for the United States in 2100 show that, in the absence of any adaptive urban design, megapolitan expansion, alone and separate from greenhouse gas-induced forcing, can be expected to raise near-surface temperatures 1-2 °C not just at the scale of individual cities but over large regional swaths of the country. This warming is a significant fraction of the 21st century greenhouse gas-induced climate change simulated by global climate models. Using a suite of regional climate simulations, we assessed the efficacy of commonly proposed urban adaptation strategies, such as green, cool roof, and hybrid approaches, to ameliorate the warming. Our results quantify how judicious choices in urban planning and design cannot only counteract the climatological impacts of the urban expansion itself but also, can, in fact, even offset a significant percentage of future greenhouse warming over large scales. Our results also reveal tradeoffs among different adaptation options for some regions, showing the need for geographically appropriate strategies rather than one size fits all solutions.
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Concepts
Climate model, Weather, Earth, 21st century, Global climate model, Global warming, Climate change, Climate
MeSH headings
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