- Joint Program Report
The climate mitigation potential of U.S. urban infrastructure albedo enhancement is explored using multidecadal regional climate simulations. Increasing albedo from 0.2 to 0.4 results in summer daytime surface temperature decreases of 1.5°C, substantial reductions in health-related heat (50% decrease in days with danger heat advisory) and decreases in energy demand for air conditioning (15% decrease in cooling degree days) over the U.S. urban areas. No significant impact is found outside urban areas. Most regional modeling studies rely on short simulations; here, we use multidecadal simulations to extract the forced signal from the noise of climate variability. Achieving a ±0.5°C margin of error for the projected impacts of urban albedo enhancement at a 95% confidence level entails using at least 5 simulation years. Finally, single-year higher-resolution simulations, requiring the same computing power as the multidecadal coarser-resolution simulations, add little value other than confirming the overall magnitude of our estimates.