Effects of Xeriscaping on Surface Temperatures

Authors: Kyia Hill*, Weber State Univeristy, Heather Couturier*, , Dan Bedford, Weber State University, Emily Kaemmer*, , Hailey Burton*,
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Water Resources and Hydrology, Environment
Keywords: xeriscape, microclimate, landscape, water conservation
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The arid and semi-arid climates of the western United States require constant attention to water conservation. Institutions of higher education have a special obligation to environmental sustainability writ large, of which water conservation is a part. One obvious approach to reducing a university’s water consumption is through xeriscaping. However, xeriscape has the potential to exacerbate existing urban heat island effects as wet surfaces are replaced by dry ones, partitioning less energy into latent heat and more into sensible heat.
This study examines localized surface temperatures of several currently utilized landscaping materials at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. These landscaping materials included grass, blacktop asphalt, light-coloured river rock, and dark wood chips. Weather station measurements of incoming solar radiation were combined with albedo and infrared thermometer measurements of the various ground surfaces. These data were used to identify rates of heat absorption and sensible and latent heat partitioning for the different surfaces. The surface emitting the greatest amount of infrared heat was a dark coloured wood chip landscaping material. These findings were communicated to members of the university’s Facilities Management team, and will be included in future decision making regarding landscaping materials. The ultimate objective is to ensure that water conservation measures are successfully implemented, without unduly raising temperatures across campus.

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