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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2013)

The moderating effect of desert ground cover plants on pedestrian thermal sensation

Snir, Keren

Titre : The moderating effect of desert ground cover plants on pedestrian thermal sensation

Auteur : Snir, Keren

Université de soutenance : Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2013

The level of thermal stress experienced by pedestrians in an urban environment is affected by their exchange of energy with their surroundings, mainly through radiation and convection. The properties of ground-cover vegetation can have an important influence on this energy exchange, particularly in terms of radiation. Although vegetated surfaces have a low albedo and thus absorb a large part of the solar radiation incident upon them, they can maintain lower temperatures than typical paved areas because they are cooled by evapotranspiration – which can be crucial in a desert environment. The purpose of this research is to examine the cooling efficiency of surface cover plants which are adapted to arid climates, by gauging their effect on thermal stress relative to their requirement for irrigation. The research site, in the Negev desert of southern Israel, consists of several small test plots with different species of succulents, creepers, grass, artificial turf and bare ground. Measurements of surface temperature and albedo provide input for comprehensive pedestrian thermal comfort modeling using the Index of Thermal Stress, assuming an open space scenario with various surface cover treatments. Water requirements of the different plant are examined through an irrigation experiment. The results indicate that differences in the effects of various cover plants on thermal stress are significant, but that these differences are small when compared with non-vegetated surfaces. While the non-succulents show better thermal performance, their water requirements are much higher, making them less efficient in terms of the ratio between cooling "benefits" and water "costs" – both of which are expressed in terms of their equivalent energy values.

Mots clés : Arid regions climate – Planning — Human comfort — Microclimatology – Research — Pedestrians — Climatic factors — Urban climatology – Research — Vegetation and climate — Planning

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