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Integrated System Analysis of Urban Vegetation and Agriculture

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - URBAG (Integrated System Analysis of Urban Vegetation and Agriculture)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

This research aims to find out how urban green infrastructures can be most efficient in contributing to urban sustainability by evaluating which combinations of urban, peri-urban agriculture and green spaces result in the best performance in terms of local and global environmental impact.
For this purpose, the project will develop novel and comprehensive analysis that will integrate the life cycle impacts of the resources required for green infrastructures with the understanding of how green infrastructures impact the urban atmosphere interaction. This comprehensive approach allows to capture the urban metabolism to optimize the food-energy-water nexus. In previous works, the impacts have been only studied individually.
The analysis will consist of 1) A geo-referenced land-use model to optimize urban and peri-urban food production in terms of nutrients, water, and energy, considering urban morphology and determining life cycle impacts 2) A spatially-temporally resolved framework for quantitative analysis and simulation of green infrastructures to determine the direct and indirect effects on the urban and regional atmosphere. The research will be implemented in two selected cities with different profiles, Barcelona and Oslo. The study ambitions to gather substantial quantitative evidence in green infrastructures and sustainability, contributing to cover the existing gap in previous works.
This project and the envisaged: Green infrastructures - A Guide for city planners and policy makers, are timely and urgent. Many cities are implementing green infrastructures despite having little quantitative and comprehensive knowledge as to which infrastructure strategies are more effective in promoting food production, air quality and temperature while reducing environmental impact. This intended Guide will contain evidence-based guidance and tools to create green infrastructure strategies; to help to meet sustainability targets, and promote wider and diffused social benefits.
The project is made up of 4 Workpackages which are made up of tasks that take place throughout the lifetime of the project.
WP1.Developing a framework for quantifying food-water-energy interactions.
Task1.1 Creation of a high-resolution geo-spatial model of each city in widely used format such as GeoTiff or Shape files, compatible with open-source GIS software. GIS-Python based scripts will be created to delineate present land uses in both Oslo and Barcelona such as green and constructed areas.
Task1.2 Create urban metabolism studies for each city with a focus on energy, water, food and waste in terms of the green infrastructures. These metabolism studies will be the reference case, upon which the various scenarios of resource optimization and nutrient recovery will be applied.
Task1.3 Dynamic material flow analysis of recovered nutrients and collected rainwater for local food optimization. The team will determine the rates of waste and wastewater treatment and the potential nutrient recovery of the treatment plants identified in geo-referenced map.
Task1.4 To determine the potential of Barcelona and Oslo to produce local food, we will first estimate per capita food demand for each city using a diet model. Secondly, we will determine present crop production of the urban and peri-urban areas of the two cities based on the land-use map.
Task1.5 Develop the scenarios. The team will design several scenarios based on feedback from the tasks described above, WP2 (how the green infrastructures affect the urban atmosphere), and the first stakeholder workshop of WP3 task3.3. The scenarios for the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB)have been defined with the office of the Urban Master Plan of the AMB.

WP2.Develop a spatially-temporally resolved framework for quantitative analysis and simulation of green infrastructures.
Task2.1 Characterization of the reference scenario. The team will first analyze the weather and chemical composition of the atmosphere of the cities to establish the reference scenario. We will study the variations in temperature, including the urban heat island effect, and correlate them with the land use (artificial surfaces, green infrastructures, etc.) based on the data gathered and processed in task1.1,as well meteorological data measured by weather stations located in Oslo and Barcelona.
Task2.2 Observation strategy and simulation of OCS. To develop the method to constrain the photosynthetic uptake of CO2 by green infrastructures using OCS as a tracer, we will first take measurements of observed OCS concentrations at various key locations of the urban and peri-urban green infrastructure areas of the two cities.
Task2.3 Simulation of scenarios. Once the scenarios have been determined along with the corresponding urban metabolism and land-use map, each scenario will be simulated with WRF-Chem. The WRF-Chem will be run with the urban canopy scheme to capture the changes in humidity and ambient temperature patterns due to increased evapotranspiration from vegetation and modifications on the albedo of urban surface.

WP3 Integrated assessment of green infrastructure analysis.
Task3.3. Integrated assessment guide for green infrastructure. We will examine the political and social feasibility of expanded urban/peri-urban agriculture and green spaces and of their replication and upscaling. The team will pay particular attention to the policy and planning opportunities and constraints to further develop green spaces and ensure that their benefits are equitably distributed and that the needs, languages, identities, and uses of surrounding residents are considered.Barcelona and Oslo.

WP4 Management. We conduct weekly meetings to facilitate the integrative work that we are doing.
4.3 Training young researchers, so that they become scholars equipped with the interdisciplinary tools required to address the sustainability challenges of food-energy-water systems, urban atmospheric modeling, and air quality.
4.4 Data Management plan. 4.5 Dissemination.
The ground-breaking aspect of this project is to integrate life cycle modelling that quantifies the metabolism of materials and energy associated to green infrastructures with atmospheric modelling to understand how those green infrastructures also affect the urban atmosphere. To do so, I will implement a novel approach in which land and resource use are used to drive both life cycle analysis and atmospheric modelling. The new approach entails the development of new methods to analyze to what extent various green infrastructure combinations can be a source of sustainable food, reduce environmental impacts, and promote a more efficient use of resources in an urban setting.
To this end, much progress has already been accomplished. The multidisciplinary team is finally in place and the multidisciplinary work is already visible through articles that have been published in first quartile peer reviewed journals (see dissemination section). We have been able to establish a working relationship with administration of the case study cities to give policy relevance to the research we are doing. We are well underway to present the main end product of this project: the Green Infrastructures Guide, a joint product of all three WPs, extrapolating the relevant outcomes of the two case study cities to develop a set of tools and guidelines that can be applied to other cities in terms of climate, geography, and type of urban metabolism.