TitleUrban heat island-induced increases in evapotranspirative demand
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsZipper, SC, Schatz, J, Kucharik, CJ, Loheide, SP
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Date Published2017
ISBN Number1944-8007
Keywordsecohydrology, plant water use, reference evapotranspiration, urban climatology, urban ecology, urban heat island, Urban systems, Water supply

Although the importance of vegetation in mitigating the urban heat island (UHI) is known, the impacts of UHI-induced changes in micrometeorological conditions on vegetation are not well understood. Here we show that plant water requirements are significantly higher in urban areas compared to rural areas surrounding Madison, WI, driven by increased air temperature with minimal effects of decreased air moisture content. Local increases in impervious cover are strongly associated with increased evapotranspirative demand in a consistent manner across years, with most increases caused by elevated temperatures during the growing season rather than changes in changes in growing season length. Potential evapotranspiration is up to 10% higher due to the UHI, potentially mitigating changes to the water and energy balances caused by urbanization. Our results indicate that local-scale land cover decisions (increases in impervious cover) can significantly impact evapotranspirative demand, with likely implications for water and carbon cycling in urban ecosystems.