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< Return to featured NbS Science

Nature-based approaches to managing climate change impacts in cities

February 11, 2020
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Hobbie and Grimm 2020 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B

This paper reviews current evidence for how Nature-based Solutions can be used to reduce the vulnerability of cities to climate change. The authors give an overview of how certain features of cities amplify climatic hazards, such as the concentration of settlements around rivers and coasts making them vulnerable to flooding, and the dominance of dark, impervious surfaces causing the urban heat island effect and increasing flooding after heavy rain. The paper then explore the social, ecological and technical impacts of climate change in cities, from heatwaves and overflowing sewage systems threatening human health, to worsening algal blooms in urban ponds and the overwhelming of wastewater treatment plants with stormwater.

The paper also examines how NbS can combat climate-induced risks. Central points are vegetation for improving drainage and reducing flooding and the use of green spaces and roofs for cooling (e.g. vegetated surfaces can be up to 25°C cooler than bare surfaces on hot summer days in Arizona). The additional social and ecological benefits of urban NbS are also discussed, such as the link between green spaces and reduced crime, and provision of habitat corridors to aid migration of species in the face of climate change. The paper concludes by identifying three research priorities for urban NbS: studying the effectiveness of NbS for reducing climate change impacts, the costs and benefits of NbS compared to engineered alternatives, and the distribution of benefits across and within cities. Read the paper here.