Tradeoffs between water conservation and temperature amelioration in Phoenix and Portland: Implications for urban sustainability

Patricia Gober, Ariane Middel, Anthony Brazel, Soe Myint, Heejun Chang, Jiunn Der Duh, Lily House-Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


This study addresses a classic sustainability challenge-the tradeoff between water conservation and temperature amelioration in rapidly growing cities, using Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon as case studies. An urban energy balance model-LUMPS (Local-Scale Urban Meteorological Parameterization Scheme)-is used to represent the tradeoff between outdoor water use and nighttime cooling during hot, dry summer months. Tradeoffs were characterized under three scenarios of land use change and three climate-change assumptions. Decreasing vegetation density reduced outdoor water use but sacrificed nighttime cooling. Increasing vegetated surfaces accelerated nighttime cooling, but increased outdoor water use by ~20%. Replacing impervious surfaces with buildings achieved similar improvements in nighttime cooling with minimal increases in outdoor water use; it was the most water-efficient cooling strategy. The fact that nighttime cooling rates and outdoor water use were more sensitive to land use scenarios than climate-change simulations suggested that cities can adapt to a warmer climate by manipulating land use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1054
Number of pages25
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012



  • climate change
  • sustainability
  • temperature amelioration
  • urban heat island
  • water conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies

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