Use of cool roofs and vegetation to mitigate urban heat and improve human thermal stress in Melbourne, Australia

Stephanie J Jacobs, Ailie JE Gallant, Nigel J Tapper, Dan Li

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The ability of cool roofs and vegetation to reduce urban temperatures and improve human thermal stress during heat wave conditions is investigated for the city of Melbourne, Australia. The Weather Research and Forecasting Model coupled to the Princeton Urban Canopy Model is employed to simulate 11 scenarios of cool roof uptake across the city, increased vegetation cover across the city, and a combination of these strategies. Cool roofs reduce urban temperatures during the day, and, if they are installed across enough rooftops, their cooling effect extends to the night. In contrast, increasing vegetation coverage reduces nighttime temperatures but results in minimal cooling during the hottest part of the day. The combination of cool roofs and increased vegetation scenarios creates the largest reduction in temperature throughout the heat wave, although the relationship between the combination scenarios is nonsynergistic. This means that the cooling occurring from the combination of both strategies is either larger or smaller than if the cooling from individual strategies were to be added together. The drier, lower-density western suburbs of Melbourne showed a greater cooling response to increased vegetation without enhancing human thermal stress due to the corresponding increase in humidity. The leafy medium-density eastern suburbs of Melbourne showed a greater cooling response to the installation of cool roofs. These results highlight that the optimal urban cooling strategies can be different across a single urban center.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1747-1764
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Australia
  • Heat islands
  • Land use
  • Regional models
  • Urban meteorology
  • Vegetation-atmosphere interactions

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