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Changes to the water balance over a century of urban development in two neighborhoods: Vancouver, Canada

Kokkonen, T. V., Grimmond, C. S. B., Christen, A., Oke, T. R. and Järvi, L. (2018) Changes to the water balance over a century of urban development in two neighborhoods: Vancouver, Canada. Water Resources Research, 54 (9). pp. 6625-6642. ISSN 0043-1397

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2017WR022445

Abstract/Summary

Hydrological cycles of two suburban neighborhoods in Vancouver, BC, during initial urban development and subsequent urban densification (1920–2010) are examined using the Surface Urban Energy and Water Balance Scheme (SUEWS). The two neighborhoods have different surface characteristics (as determined from aerial photographs) which impact the hydrological processes. Unlike previous studies of the effect of urbanization on the local hydrology, densification of already built lots are explored with a focus on the neighborhood scale. Human behavioral changes to irrigation are accounted for in the simulations. Irrigation is the dominant factor, accounting for up to 56% of the water input on an annual basis in the study areas. This may surpass garden needs and go to runoff. Irrigating once a week would provide sufficient water for the garden. Without irrigation, evaporation would have decreased over the 91 years at a rate of up to 1.4 mm year−1 and runoff increased at 4.0 mm year−1 with the increase in impervious cover. Similarly, without irrigation, the ratio of sensible heat flux over the available energy would have increased over the 91 years at a rate of up to 0.003 year−1. Urbanization and densification cause an increase in runoff and increase risk of surface flooding. Small daily runoff events with short return periods have increased over the century whereas the occurrence of heavy daily runoff events (return period > 52 days) are not affected. The results can help us to understand the dominant factors in the suburban hydrological cycle and can inform urban planning.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:78895
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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