This Capitol City Is Covering Itself In Plants To Help Fight Rising Temperatures

Categories: Green


Madrid has always been hot in the summer, but it's getting hotter. During a heat wave in 2015, 104-degree days broke the city's all-time records for the month of June and July. Heat waves that used to happen once every two decades now happen every five years. By 2050, there will be 20% more unusually hot days in the summer, and it will rain 20% less.

Each of the planned changes in landscaping can help. Planting gardens on roofs, and adding plants on outdoor walls, helps insulate buildings so they can save energy, and helps reduce street noise. But it also helps bring down local temperatures by shading pavement and by releasing evaporated water that can create clouds. In pilot green roof tests in some Madrid neighborhoods, temperatures went down more than four degrees. Replacing paved squares with plantings that can absorb and store water will help the city cope with more frequent heavy rain. 

"The improvements presented are practical and effective and can be undertaken across the city in many locations," says Armour. "They are buffer, localized solutions aimed to adapt the city to the different effects of climate change scenarios to build resilience."

Though drought will be more common, the city can handle more plants. By redesigning paved areas to capture and store water instead of letting rain run off, the city can supply all of the gardens with as much water as they need. And choosing the right plants for Madrid's arid climate also matters.

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