Using satellite imagery to investigate Blue-Green Infrastructure establishment time for urban cooling

L. Gobatti , P.M. Bach , A. Scheidegger , J.P. Leitão | Sustainable Cities and Society Volume 97, October 2023, 104768 | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


The process of urbanization can alter the local climate to the point that it threatens citizens’ well-being by creating heat-related hazards. The construction of Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) can improve the regulation of surface energy exchange processes and address this problem. However, the time needed for a BGI to deliver a stable cooling performance, referred to here as the Cooling Establishment Time (CET), is poorly understood and quantified in the literature and dependent on environmental, design and maintenance factors. Here, we analyze the feasibility of using satellite data to derive the CET for different BGIs across the city of Zurich, Switzerland. Results showed that remote sensing can quantify the land surface temperature impact of BGIs and assist in estimating their CET. BGI with trees or climbing plants required a longer CET (seven to ten years) before any notable shift in surface temperatures were visible, while grasses or artificial irrigated systems led to shorter CETs (one to three years). These results allow us to better account for BGI cooling establishment when planning for areas that need urgent action under warming climates. This work supports evidence-based urban greenery planning and design towards cooling our increasingly warming cities in a timely manner.