A review of the Impact of Blue Space on the Urban Microclimate

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The urban heat island (UHI) phenomenon represents a major public health issue and has received great attention due to rapid urbanisation. Blue spaces have long been considered a possible mitigation strategy to ameliorate the UHI. However, our knowledge regarding the interaction of waterbodies with their urban surroundings is still limited. This review attempts through a comparative analysis of the available literature to examine the thermal effects of static blue spaces on the urban climate. Remote sensing studies are the most common approach analysed in this review but there is a clear disparity between the cooling potentials reported by remote sensing as opposed to field measurements or numerical simulations, likely due to a lack of nocturnal measurements, when warming due to thermal inertia can occur and consideration of the latent heat flux. The size and shape of blue spaces are shown to be important variables for the cooling achieved in urban settings but there is no consensus in the literature. This is likely due to the different locations and climates of the studies, it can be hypothesised that in locations with an even distribution of wind directions a rounder waterbody is more effective while in locations where wind direction is more uniform an elongated waterbody aligned to the wind is more effective due to the increased fetch. From the analysis of the literature, it is clear that there is still a distinct knowledge gap regarding the physical interpretation of waterbodies’ contribution to the urban climate. There is also a current lack of information about the diurnal and seasonal variability of the various structures and processes. There is evidence, however, that the comfort achieved by sensible cooling can be offset by the increased water vapour content and that during the night blue spaces may actually exacerbate the UHI, reducing urban thermal comfort.
Original languageEnglish
Article number139068
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date30 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020


  • Blue space
  • Climate
  • Cooling
  • Heat island
  • Microclimate
  • Waterbody

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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