Many studies have found that larger parks might be needed to counteract the Urban Heat Island effects typical in densely populated Asian megacities. However, it is not easy to establish large parks to serve as urban cool islands in Asian megacities, where little space exists for large urban neighborhood parks. Officials in these cities would rather use small areas by replacing heat-absorbing artificial land cover with natural cover. The main objective of this study was to understand the cooling effect of changes in land cover on surface and air temperatures in urban micro-scale environments for supporting sustainable green-space planning and policy in densely built-up areas. This was achieved using measurements at different heights (ground surface, 0.1 m, and 1.5 m) for five land cover types (LCTs) and modeling with the micro-scale climate model ENVI-met. At all vertical measuring points, the average temperature over the entire measurement period had the same hot-to-cold order: asphalt > soil > grass > water > forest. However, the value dramatically decreased as the measuring points became higher. The intensity of hot and cool spots showed the highest value at surface by 18.2 °C, and declined with the height, showing 4.1 °C at 0.1 m and 3.1 °C at 1.5 m. The modeling results indicated that the well-known diurnal variation in surface insolation also occurred in our small domain, among the various LCTs. Based on these findings, providing small-scale green infrastructure in densely built-up areas could be an effective way to improve urban micro-scale thermal conditions.
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