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Keywords:

  • runoff;
  • temperature;
  • nonpoint source pollution;
  • evapotranspiration;
  • urbanization

Abstract:  Urban impervious surfaces absorb and store thermal energy, particularly during warm summer months. During a rainfall/runoff event, thermal energy is transferred from the impervious surface to the runoff, causing it to become warmer. As this higher temperature runoff enters receiving waters, it can be harmful to coldwater habitat. In an urban watershed, impervious asphalt surfaces (roads, parking lots, and driveways) and pervious residential lawns comprise a significant portion of the watershed area. A paired asphalt-turfgrass sod plot was constructed to compare the thermal runoff characteristics between asphalt and turfgrass sod surfaces, to identify meteorological variables that influence these thermal characteristics, and to evaluate evaporative heat loss for runoff from asphalt surfaces. Rainfall simulations were conducted during the summers of 2004 and 2005 under a range of climatic conditions. Asphalt surface temperatures immediately prior to rainfall simulations averaged 43.6°C and decreased an average of 12.3°C over 60 min as rain cooled the surface. In contrast, presimulation sod surface temperatures averaged only 23.3°C and increased an average of 1.3°C throughout the rainfall events. Heat transferred from the asphalt to the runoff resulted in initial asphalt runoff temperatures averaging 35.0°C that decreased by an average of 4.1°C at the end of the event. Sod runoff temperatures averaged only 25.5°C and remained fairly constant throughout the simulations. Multivariable regression equations were developed to predict (1) average asphalt surface temperature (R2 = 0.90) and average asphalt runoff temperature (R2 = 0.92) as a function of solar radiation, rain temperature, and wind speed, and (2) average sod surface temperature (R2 = 0.85) and average sod runoff temperature (R2 = 0.94) as a function of solar radiation, rain temperature, rain intensity, and wind speed. Based on a heat balance analysis, existing evaporation equations developed from studies on lakes were not adequate to predict evaporation from runoff on a heated impervious surface. The combined heat from the asphalt and sod plots was an average of 38% less than the total heat had the total area consisted solely of asphalt.