Urban heat resilience at the time of global warming: evaluating the impact of the urban parks on outdoor thermal comfort
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: In densely populated urban centers, increased air temperature due to urban heat island (UHI) efect can undermine the thermal comfort and health of citizens. Research has shown that large urban parks can mitigate the efect of UHIs and improve thermal comfort, especially in the warmer months of the year when temperature changes are more noticeable. This study investigated the cooling efect intensity (CEI) of the Retiro Park in the center of Madrid at three diferent distances from its southern edge and the impact of this cooling efect on thermal comfort from physiological and psychological perspectives. This investigation was performed by measuring microclimate data and conducting a survey simultaneously during the summer days. Results: The results showed that the CEI of the park varies with distance from its edge. Because of this efect, air temperature within the 130 m and 280 m distance of the park was, respectively, 1.6 °C and 0.9 °C lower than the temperature at the 520 m distance (the nearest heat island). After examining the efect of the park in terms of physi‑ ological equivalent temperature (PET), it was found that the PET at the 130 m and 280 m distance of the park was 9.3% and 5.4% less than the PET in the heat island domain. More than 81% of the respondents (in all three areas) had a mental image of the park as the place where they would experience the highest level of outdoor thermal comfort, and this rate was higher in the areas closer to the park. The analysis of citizens’ responses about perceived thermal comfort (PTC) showed that citizens in areas with higher CEI had perceived a higher degree of thermal comfort from the psychological perspective. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the signifcant role of large urban parks located in the core of the populated cities in providing thermal comfort for citizens from both physiological and psychological perspectives. Additionally, the results of this study demonstrated that among the environmental (natural and artifcial) factors around the park (topography, urban structure, etc.), the aspect ratio has the greatest impact on thermal comfort.