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Interdisciplinary University project creates model to predict land use, climate effects and even potential profit of farming in cities

Thursday, January 12, 2017 16:18
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Volunteers help prepare soil and beds at the Spaces of Opportunity urban farm in Phoenix, Arizona.

The model will look at what would happen if vacant land in a city were turned into urban farms, which could produce food for the neighbors and help mitigate the urban heat-island effect, in which concrete and asphalt stay warmer overnight, raising temperatures. Conversely, plants and trees allow desert land to cool at night.

By Mary Beth Faller
Arizona State University
Jan 5, 2017


As Phoenix continues to sprawl toward Tucson, urban planners are working to prevent the entire 100-mile corridor between Arizona’s largest metro areas from becoming nothing but concrete and asphalt.

Unfettered development, experts say, can strain resources and increase temperatures and pollution, setting off a chain reaction of problems for the region and its residents.

Seeking sustainable solutions, a team of Arizona State University researchers has been working to create an innovative, physics-based model that can predict how gardens and farms can most efficiently be integrated into cities to produce food in the face of a changing climate, cool the urban heat island and make people happier.

It’s a collaborative five-year national project, funded with $4 million from two federal
agencies, that aims to evaluate huge sets of data to create a planning model that can be used by any growing metropolitan area. The model will account for variables that include air pollution, land cover, water use and energy sources.

Read the complete article here.


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