Energy, Resources and the Environment

Booming Beijing: the impact of urban growth on local environment

Booming Beijing: the impact of urban growth on local environment

The global population is ever-growing. Cities are expanding at a rapid pace. A recent study by Mark Jacobsen of Stanford University and Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory investigated the urban growth of Beijing, China (published on June 15th in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres). Their results showed that the city had quadripled in size in the span of a decade.

This massive increase in the areal extent of the city had a significant impact on the local environment of the city, even if the increased pollution by the inhabitants and vehicles was neglected. The presence of new infrastructure, such as buildings and roads, created a ring of impact around the older parts of the city. This effectively reduced the wind speed in the city, making the air more stagnant, as well as increasing the average winter temperature, leading amongst others to increased ground-level ozone pollution.

Though Beijing is far from the only city in the world experiencing this increase in size, the study illustrates the impact of urbanization on local weather and pollution, even in the absence of other sources of pollution.

Read the full, original post here, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.

Suzanne Hangx is a post-doctoral researcher at the High Pressure and Temperature Laboratory of Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Her research focusses on fluid-rock interactions and how they affect the mechanical properties of rocks. By breaking rocks on a (more or less) day-to-day basis, she aims to make a contribution to potential solutions of societally relevant earth scientific issues, such as subsurface CO2 storage or surface subsidence induced by hydrocarbon or groundwater pumping. Suzanne is currently the Subsurface Officer of the Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) Division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

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