The case

The period from April–July 2018 was the hottest and driest on record in Germany having a severe impact on the vegetation. This is especially apparent in the grass vegetation as these plants are not able to store a lot water and their roots only penetrate the top most soil layers. On the image on the right (Aug. 2018) you can see multiple grassy areas turned brown in comparison with an image from the same time of the previous year on the left. This is apparent along the river, in the Rosental Park east of the main station or in the grassy areas north of Grünau (on the left of the image).

While the appearance of the lawns drastically changes, trees where less impacted immediately as their roots penetrate deeper layers of the soil. Nevertheless in the long run also these vegetation types will be damaged by longer and more frequent periods of drought. Since lawns and open spaces in general provide a wide range of benefits to the cities residents, and the direct impact of a heatwave is the severest here, more attention and research needs to be directed towards this urban structure. Please, move the slider in the image below to the right and left to find more about it yourself.

The wider picture

Heatwaves have fundamental consequences to the urban environment and their residents. In comparison with the year 2017. This led to losses of ecosystem service like the provision of cooling from green surfaces, profoundly reducing the peoples well-being. Therefore increased management and monitoring capacities in cities are needed, as prolonging and profound heat waves will be a major public health hazard in the 21st century. What is needed beyond are better adapted plants which endure longer periods of stress, e.g. trampling or drought.

Our scientific contributions

Lawns in Cities: From a Globalised Urban Green SPACE phenomenon to Sustainable Nature-Based Solutions

Urban land use intensity assessment: The potential of spatio-temporal spectral traits with remote sensing.

About the Author

Thilo Wellmann holds a M.Sc degree in Global Change Geography and does a doctorate in Landscape Ecology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.