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Beating the heat in Chicago

Notre Dame, NCAR analyze cooling influence of green roofs

Sep 12, 2018 - by David Hosansky

As cities face more extreme heat waves, they are looking into strategies that can offset rising temperatures. Heat causes more annual deaths in the United States than any other weather-related hazard, according to the National Weather Service, and it also strains energy resources and reduces economic productivity.

Heavily populated cities like Chicago have turned to green roofs that are designed to provide insulation and significantly lower temperatures.

A new study by the University of Notre Dame, with support from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), creates an integrated framework to identify which neighborhoods in Chicago would benefit most from green roofs. This can provide city officials with a strategic approach to ensure the best return on their investment to beat the heat.

The study uses an advanced, NCAR-based computer model: the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) urban modeling system. The model, used by more than 100 research groups across the world, enables scientists to simulate the influence of urban development on the local atmosphere in high-resolution detail.

"With WRF-Urban, we can look at the effect of heat waves on social vulnerability and analyze the impact of mitigation strategies, such as green roofs," said NCAR scientist Fei Chen, who co-authored the study. "The goal is to provide policymakers with the best possible information."

See the Notre Dame article about the study.

 

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