Mesoscale Climatic Simulation of Surface Air Temperature Cooling by Highly Reflective Greenhouses in SE Spain (Full Paper)

Pablo Campra *† and Dev Millstein † † University of California Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab,  Energy Analyses & Environmental Impacts Department, Berkeley, California 94720, United States , Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/es402093q, Publication Date (Web): September 27, 2013, Copyright © 2013 American Chemical Society



Climatic simulation and geophysical mechanism



A new study has been recently published at the prestigious American scientific magazine Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) where scientists Pablo Campra from the University of Almeria in Spain and Dev Millstein, from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California (LBNL) demonstrate through a complex climatic simulation that flat plastic greenhouses in Almeria, SE Spain, the biggest concentration of greenhouses in the planet, are able to cool local temperatures in the farming area by reflection of solar light from their clear coloured roofs.  The model shows an average reduction in summer maximum temperatures of 0.4 ºC, that can reach further 1.3 ºC cooling on very hot days. The cooling effect of this particular type of farming surface, highly reflective, was discovered by Pablo Campra on 2008, who called it “the albedo effect”. The analyses of historic temperature trends in the farming area for the last 30 years does not only show a warming trend (regionally of about +0.4 ºC per decade), but even a cooling trend of -0.3ºC per decade.

The new study confirms the maintenance of this cooling trend, and offers a geophysicla mechanism that explains this phenomenon. In order to ruin this simulation, powerful supercomputers of the National Energy Research Center (NERSC) at Berkeley, adding a computing power of 10,000 PCs together, needed to run simulation experiments within the complex climatic system of the Earth. This research has been supported by the US Department of Energy as the albedo effect is a fesible geoengineering strategy that has great interest to offset urban heat islands in summer. Simply by painting in white or lighter colours the roofs and paviments of big cities, maximum noon temperatures can be decreased by 1 to 2 ºC, creating a cooler microclimate and thus improving quality of life, reducing AC energy use and the formation of pollutants such as ozone. 


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