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Effectiveness of Green Infrastructure for Improvement of Air Quality in Urban Street Canyons

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Street-level concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) and particulate matter (PM) exceed public health standards in many cities, causing increased mortality and morbidity. Concentrations can be reduced by controlling emissions, increasing dispersion, or increasing deposition rates, but little attention has been paid to the latter as a pollution control method. Both NO(2) and PM are deposited onto surfaces at rates that vary according to the nature of the surface; deposition rates to vegetation are much higher than those to hard, built surfaces. Previously, city-scale studies have suggested that deposition to vegetation can make a very modest improvement (<5%) to urban air quality. However, few studies take full account of the interplay between urban form and vegetation, specifically the enhanced residence time of air in street canyons. This study shows that increasing deposition by the planting of vegetation in street canyons can reduce street-level concentrations in those canyons by as much as 40% for NO(2) and 60% for PM. Substantial street-level air quality improvements can be gained through action at the scale of a single street canyon or across city-sized areas of canyons. Moreover, vegetation will continue to offer benefits in the reduction of pollution even if the traffic source is removed from city centers. Thus, judicious use of vegetation can create an efficient urban pollutant filter, yielding rapid and sustained improvements in street-level air quality in dense urban areas.
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Please email a.r.mackenzie@bham.ac.uk for a private copy of the final published article
Pugh, T. A. M., A. R. MacKenzie, J. D. Whyatt, and C. N. Hewitt (2012). The effectiveness of green
infrastructure for improvement of air quality in urban street canyons. Environmental Science &
Technology, 46 (14), 7692-7699. DOI: 10.1021/es300826w.
The effectiveness of green infrastructure to improve
urban air quality
Thomas A. M. Pugh*§, A. Robert MacKenzie#, J. Duncan Whyatt, C. Nicholas Hewitt
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, U.K., LA1 4YQ
thomas.pugh@imk.fzk.de
RECEIVED DATE
§ Now at: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate
Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU), Kreuzeckbahn Str. 19, 82467 Garmisch-
Partenkirchen, Germany
# Now at: School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Science, University of Birmingham,
Edgbaston, Birmingham, U.K., B15 2TT. a.r.mackenzie@bham.ac.uk
Abstract
Street-level concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) exceed public health
standards in many cities, causing increased mortality and morbidity. Concentrations can be reduced by
controlling emissions, increasing dispersion, or increasing deposition rates, but little attention has been
paid to the latter as a pollution control method. Both NO2 and PM are deposited onto surfaces at rates
that vary according to the nature of the surface; deposition rates to vegetation are much higher than
those to hard, built surfaces. Previously, city-scale studies have suggested that deposition to vegetation
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can make a very modest improvement (<5%) to urban air quality. However, few studies take full
account of the interplay between urban form and vegetation, specifically the enhanced residence time of
air in street canyons. This study shows that increasing deposition by the planting of vegetation in street
canyons can reduce street-level concentrations in those canyons by as much as 40% for NO2 and 60%
for PM. Substantial street-level air quality improvements can be gained through action at the scale of a
single street canyon or across city-sized areas of canyons. Moreover, vegetation will continue to offer
benefits in the reduction of pollution even if the traffic source is removed from city centers. Thus,
judicious use of vegetation can create an efficient urban pollutant filter, yielding rapid and sustained
improvements in street-level air quality in dense urban areas.
Introduction
Outdoor air pollution causes 35 000-50 000 premature deaths per year in the UK 1, and more than 1
million worldwide2, in addition to increased morbidity3. The pollutants mostly harmful in cities in the
developed world are nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter with
aerodynamic diameter less than 10 μm (PM10), all of which cause or exacerbate pulmonary and cardiac
diseases4,5. Attempts to reduce concentrations of these air pollutants have been ongoing for several
decades, with much progress being made3. Methods usually center on the reduction of pollutant
emissions, an increase in atmospheric dispersion, or the locating of high emitters away from existing
pollution hotspots or areas of high population. Yet concentrations of air pollutants in many urban areas
still consistently exceed public health standards, with mean concentration trends that are near-zero or
even increasing6. Furthermore, there is a growing body of evidence that there is no safe threshold for
exposure to air pollutants, especially PM7, 8, so strategies are required to continue to drive
concentrations down. Air quality management is particularly needed in poorly ventilated street
canyons61.
This study focuses on NO2 and PM10, which are the dominant pollutants in most urban areas, where
they are largely derived from vehicle emissions (e.g. ~50% of NO2 and ~80% of PM10 in Central
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London, U. K.9). Although vehicular pollutants are reduced by dispersion, this is limited at the street-
level by in-canyon air recirculation and low wind speeds. Pollutant concentrations can also be reduced
by increasing dry deposition to surfaces. Compared to controlling emissions or enhancing dispersion,
relatively little attention has been paid to deposition as a pollution control measure. An effective and
accessible means of achieving an enhancement in pollutant deposition is to plant additional vegetation.
Dry deposition reduces pollutant concentration (Ci) through a first-order process,
i
id,
iC
z
V
=
dt
dC
, (1)
where Vd,i is the deposition velocity and z is the height through which the pollutant is well-mixed. Vd,i
depends on the pollutant species, i, and the nature of the surface, and is generally higher to vegetation
than to other urban surfaces due to metabolic uptake by the plant, the 'stickiness' of the leaf surface, the
large surface area of plants and their aerodynamic properties10.
Previous estimates of the effect of dry deposition to urban vegetation suggest that it makes small
reductions in NO2 and PM10 concentrations on the city-scale11-15,57,58,59. For example, in Chicago,
reductions of less than 1% are estimated based on current vegetation cover and less than 5% if the urban
area was totally covered by trees11. These studies are based on relatively large domains of 12-3350 km2,
and use aggregate variables to describe the city or sub-regions of a city. Thus these estimates fail to take
account of how the complex geometry of the urban surface affects street-level concentrations, where
people are primarily exposed, in particular through the occurrence of street canyons Street canyons are
virtually ubiquitous in dense urban areas such as central London, Paris, Rome or Manhatten. Within
street canyons, overturning eddy circulations are largely isolated from the urban boundary layer (UBL)
above, leading to greatly increased residence times of air within the canyon16-20 (Fig. 1a). Residence
times increase substantially as the aspect ratio (height/width; h/w) of the canyon increases, and as the
above-roof wind speed decreases16,17. Where street canyons contain a pollutant source (e.g. traffic), the
increased residence time within the canyon acts to increase street-level pollutant concentrations.
Deposition in street canyons acts to reduce pollutant concentrations, and is more effective than
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deposition from the UBL, because of (i) the increased surface-to-volume ratio in the canyon as
compared with the UBL, (ii) the decreased volume into which the pollutant is initially mixed, and (iii)
the higher concentrations found within the street canyon, especially at low wind speeds (Fig. 1b). All
these effects could be exploited for pollution control by enhancing deposition velocities to in-canyon
surfaces. “Green walls” and street trees offer two means to achieve this enhancement.
Here, a model of street-canyon chemistry and deposition was used to show that judicious use of
enhanced-deposition surfaces in concert with the urban form can very substantially reduce pollutant
concentrations in one of the parts of the atmosphere where people are most likely to be exposed, i.e. at
street level in street canyons. The model results were evaluated against available measurements. They
demonstrate that vegetation can be an important component of pollution control strategies in dense
urban areas, but only if it is applied with due regard to in-canyon air recirculation and the spatial
distribution of emission sources. Urban greening initiatives whose focus is purely to increase urban tree
coverage will fail to achieve their maximum air quality potential, and may even worsen air quality in
street canyons. By taking into account the particular characteristics of street canyons the potential for air
quality improvements could be greatly enhanced.
Experimental
Model formulation
The tortuous flows in street canyons can be simulated using computational fluid dynamic (CFD)
models16,18-20 or deduced from measurement studies17. Although some of the modeling studies have used
simple chemical schemes to study reacting pollutants, such simulations are very expensive
computationally, limiting the scope for sensitivity studies. Therefore, the atmospheric chemistry model
CiTTyCAT21 has been enhanced to simulate mixing and dry deposition within street canyons.
Conceptually, the urban form consists of two compartments, the lower of which can represent either a
single street canyon or every street canyon within a city. In this model, CiTTy-Street (Fig. 1c),
deposition velocities for roofs, canyon walls and floors can be assigned separately. Emissions of NOx,
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PM10 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including, if necessary, biogenic VOCs, are input to the
lower compartment. Mixing, M, between the two compartments is parameterized using dimensionless
air exchange rates (E) for different canyon aspect ratios16 for the case of a perpendicular wind and
modified by h and above-roof wind speed, u:
.
h
u
E=M
(2)
Concentrations in the upper compartment are refreshed using background concentrations at a rate
dependent on u and the assumed horizontal length scale of the compartment (f). By varying f, CiTTy-
Street can simulate either a single street canyon, or a series of generic street canyons. When considering
exposure to the population across a whole city, the appropriate model output is an average of the canyon
and overlying box, weighted by the proportion of the urban population exposed within the urban
canyons. Similarly, the effects of parkland and other land-use variations can be accommodated by a
weighted average of emissions and deposition in the overlying box. By changing deposition velocities to
surfaces in the lower and upper compartments, deposition to different surface types is simulated.
Based on the available literature, it is currently not possible to draw a firm conclusion as to how E
varies for above-roof wind directions that are not perpendicular to the canyon axis, or indeed the effects
of junctions (see supporting information). It was assumed here that for a large area of street canyons the
air exchange rates of Liu et al.16 are valid for all wind directions, although the exact value of E for a
particular street or set of streets remains a significant uncertainty, and one that may be sensitive to small
features of canyon geometry or downwind fetch. For the case of single street canyons under a non-
perpendicular wind horizontal ventilation is highly uncertain, but may be substantial (see supporting
information). Thus the exchange rates applied in this study must be taken as a first approximation to the
generic street canyon situation, and extrapolations to specific canyons must be carried out with
caution.CiTTy-Street was evaluated against measurements made in and above street canyons in
Hanover, Berlin and Copenhagen22,23. It was able to simulate successfully the magnitude of in-canyon
NO2 concentrations in a non-vegetated canyon given information on NO2 and O3 concentrations in the
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UBL, traffic emission rates, photolytic flux and above-roof wind speed (Fig. S2). The simulated change
in anomaly between canyon and UBL concentrations with above-roof wind speed fell between that
measured at leeward and windward walls in these canyons (Fig. 1b and Fig. S1). This indicates that the
lower compartment represented the canyon-average anomaly well. Full details of the model formulation
and evaluation are given in the supporting information.
CiTTy-Street, was used to calculate the effects of urban vegetation on pollutant concentrations, taking
central London, UK, as a case study. One control and three green wall/green roof scenarios were
considered (Table 1), and each was evaluated for both a single canyon (f = 40 m) and for a large area of
street canyons (f = 10 000 m). Note that the latter study does not represent a true simulation of central
London, but rather a scaling-up of the single canyon run to represent a large area of generic street
canyons. In the following, green walls are considered as a proxy for any in-canyon vegetation which
minimally affects in-canyon residence time. Street trees are addressed later, as they have the potential to
substantially lengthen canyon air residence times, and so increase street-level pollution
concentrations24,56. The model results and conclusions we present below are sensitive to h/w, but not to
canyon volume or cloud cover (see supporting information).
Deposition velocities
In this study, green walls can refer to any type of wall greening, from Hedera spp. (ivy) to a complete
vertical canopy of grass or broadleaved plant species. Coverings of ivy are commonly found on old
buildings in the UK and USA, whereas pilot studies using specially designed vertical canopies have
been installed at several locations (e.g. Greenwich Dome, London; Grosvenor House, Luton). A
reasonable value for the single-sided leaf area index (LAI) of a green wall is 1-2 m2 leaf m-2 wall25.
Green roofs can vary from a covering of grass to shrubs and small trees, and thus may have LAI varying
from 2 to >5 26.
NO2 and O3 deposition velocities for brick and concrete surfaces are taken from Grøntoft and
Raychaudhuri27. Literature values for NO2 deposition velocities for grasses and broadleaf species, i.e.
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those species likely to be used for green walls and roofs, generally lie in the range 0.2-0.4 cm s-1 14,28-33,
although velocities as high as 1.3 cm s-1 have been calculated over tropical pasture34. Likewise O3
deposition velocities for the same species types vary from 0.06 to 1.8 cm s-1 14,35-39. Given the wide
range of candidate species for green walls/roofs, and the substantial overlap in measured deposition
velocities for NO2 and O3 for different plant types and LAI, it was chosen not to identify a particular
species for consideration. Rather, the study was kept general by using deposition velocities in the
middle of the most commonly reported values in the literature: 0.3 cm s-1 for NO2, 1.0 cm s-1 for O3
(simulations are carried out during daytime when leaf stomata are likely to be open).
Reported deposition velocities for PM10 to vegetation vary by about three orders of magnitude: i.e.
from ~0.01 to ~10 cm s-1 25. In addition, Freer-Smith et al.40 have reported deposition velocities
exceeding 30 cm s-1 for particles less than 1 μm in diameter, although to the knowledge of the authors
these measurements have not yet been replicated elsewhere. Particle deposition rates are strongly
dependent on the surface properties and orientation of the surface, and the wind speed, with higher wind
speeds producing greater impaction rates, and hence yielding higher deposition velocities. As leaves
typically present favorable surfaces for particle capture, but wind speeds in canyons and immediately
above roofs are likely to be low relative to the above-roof mean wind speed, the relatively conservative
value of 0.64 cm s-1 used by Nowak11,12 is adopted. Use of this commonly-used deposition velocity aids
comparison of the results herein with those of previous studies. However, this Vd of 0.64 cm s-1 is
considered suitable for this study because it is comparable with that predicted by the process-based
model of Petroff and Zhang41 for deposition to grass (LAI 1-2; the same as the assumed LAI for a green
wall) for PM10 mass distributions measured in polluted street canyons (mass distribution peaking at 3-
10 μm)42,43, and broadly comparable (although smaller) than the ~1 cm s-1 measured for particles of
comparable size over moorland by Nemitz et al.44. The considerable uncertainty in this deposition
velocity should be emphasized, and the deposition velocity may need to be re-evaluated if a different
mass size distribution is assumed (see supporting information for further discussion). Secondary
processes such as resuspension and possible deposition limitation due to leaf PM10 loading are not
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explicitly modelled. Both these processes would act to decrease overall deposition rates, but the
uncertainties are much less than those in the initial choice of Vd,PM10. Modeled PM10 deposition fluxes
are compared to measurements below.
Results
Simulating adoption of green walls across large areas of street canyons in CiTTy-Street reduced in-
canyon concentrations of NO2 and PM10 by as much as 15% and 23% respectively at u=1 m s-1 and
h/w=1 (Fig. 2; for results in terms of absolute concentrations, please refer to the supporting
information). These reductions were strongly dependent on residence time (i.e. wind speed and canyon
geometry) and fraction of canyon wall greening (Table 1), but not on the initial pollutant concentration
(see supporting information). The net pollutant flux out of the canyon was itself reduced by 2-11% for
NOx (Fig. S6 left) and became inward for PM10, leading to small concentration reductions in the UBL
above the canyon. As cities are a major regional source of air pollutants, for cities with large areal
coverage of street canyons (e.g. London, Paris) this is expected to make an important difference to
pollutant transport and regional-scale photochemistry, but this aspect is not pursued further here.
Release of VOCs from urban trees can influence regional-scale photochemistry14, but did not
significantly alter the NO2 and PM10 budgets in the canyon in this study.
Area-for-area and for surfaces with comparable leaf-area indices (LAI) and, hence, comparable
deposition velocities the model results showed that greening of in-canyon surfaces is more effective
than greening of roofs at reducing street-level pollutant concentrations because it acts directly upon the
relatively small volume of air in the canyon, rather than indirectly via the UBL (Figs. 2 and S6 right).
Further, the model calculations indicated that canyon greening can actually increase the pollutant sink,
area-for-area, relative to a rural vegetated surface (by 15-70% for NO2 for 100% green wall coverage at
h/w=1, Fig. S7, see supporting information).
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Modeled PM10 deposition rates were evaluated by comparing the modeled deposition flux per unit
leaf area, FL,i, with measurements, where FL,i was calculated from the deposition velocity and the
modeled concentration:
i
id,
iL, C
LAI
V
=F
. (3)
Assuming a single-sided LAI of 2, the modeled FL,PM10 varied from 6 - 9 mg m-2 (leaf area) day-1 for
wind speeds from 0.5 to 5 m s-1. This is well within the range of available measurements. For roadside
trees FL,PM10=11-119 mg m-2 (leaf area) day-1 has recently been measured46. Another study measured
mean FL,PM for particles with aerodynamic diameter greater than 0.45 μm as 25 mg m-2 (leaf area) day-1
to trees alongside a major road over a 14-day period in summer, similar deposition rates were observed
to leaves in central London47.
Pollutant concentration reductions were strongly dependent upon canyon residence time, and hence
wind speed. To evaluate urban greening effects over a realistic wind climatology, a year (2008) of daily
average wind speeds from Kew Gardens, London, were used48. The concentration change indicated by
CiTTy-Street for each wind speed was multiplied by the probability of that wind speed occurring. In an
idealized city of uniform street canyons with h/w=1, annual average concentrations of in-canyon NO2
and PM10 were reduced by 9% and 13% by greening of canyon walls across large areas of street
canyons. Despite implementation of considerable pollution control measures, UK roadside NO2
concentrations have changed little over the period 1997-2010 49, an effect attributed to an increased
proportion of NOx being emitted directly as NO2 6. In-canyon greening could be an effective tool to
reduce street level concentrations of NO2 and other pollutants throughout dense urban areas.
Currently it is believed that large-scale tree planting across the city is required for vegetation to make
discernible improvements to street-level air quality. Contrary to this, the results presented herein show
that, because the air within a street canyon is, to a degree, isolated from the air in the UBL and all the
other street canyons16-20, greening in one canyon may have a profound effect on air quality in that
canyon, and will have a small effect elsewhere through reductions in UBL concentrations (Table 1 and
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Fig. 2). The street-level reductions were slightly smaller than for greening of large areas of street
canyons, because actions in a single street canyon did not significantly reduce UBL pollutant
concentrations. Using the 2008 Kew Gardens wind speed climatology produced reductions over a year
for action in a single canyon (h/w=1) of 7% and 11% for NO2 and PM10 concentrations respectively.
This increased to 20% and 31% respectively when h/w=2. Note that when considering single-canyons,
along-street ventilation may also be important when the above-roof wind is not near-perpendicular to
the along-canyon axis (see supporting information). Counter-intuitively, increasing h/w for green street
canyons reduced absolute concentrations at low wind speeds (Fig. S4), as the increased overall
deposition rate more than compensated for the greater pollution-trapping effect at high h/w. This implies
that there may be a case for artificially increasing the aspect ratio of some streets in conjunction with
greening activities, perhaps by the addition of living vegetation (green) “billboards” on top of existing
buildings.
At low wind speeds, when the effect of in-canyon vegetation was enhanced, the greening of canyon
walls offered considerable potential of reductions in the frequency of exceedence of air quality limit
values. In these circumstances, reductions in NO2 and PM10 concentration of as much as ~40% and
~60% respectively were predicted by the model (Table 1 and Fig. S4). This indicates that street canyon
vegetation not only results in a substantial overall reduction of in-canyon pollutant concentrations, but it
also forms a natural buffer against high-pollution episodes (which are often associated with low wind
speeds), and associated acute impacts on human health4.
Like green walls, street trees increase deposition, but in addition they reduce mixing, M, between
street canyon air and the UBL24, 56. Because of this potential to alter M, it remains difficult to quantify
the effect of street trees on in-canyon deposition fluxes. In order to assess whether trees have a
beneficial or negative effect on in-canyon pollutant concentrations, the sensitivity of CiTTy-Street to
deposition velocity and to canyon residence time was explored using a bi-variate sensitivity study (Figs.
3 and S5). In-canyon pollutant concentrations increased with residence time when deposition velocity
was low. As deposition velocity increased, a compensation deposition velocity, Vd,i(P), was reached for
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each pollutant species, i. Above Vd,i(P), in-canyon concentrations decreased as residence times increased
at a given deposition velocity. Therefore, if trees increase in-canyon deposition velocity sufficiently,
they will improve, rather than worsen, in-canyon air pollution. The position of Vd,i(P) for each pollutant
depends on the in-canyon emission rate of that pollutant. Higher emission rates require a higher canyon-
average deposition velocity to prevent concentration build-up. This could be achieved through using
different or greater amounts of street tree vegetation. For the high emission scenario used here (central
London), Vd,PM10(P) corresponded to a LAI of 1.3 averaged across the canyon width, whereas Vd,NO2(P)
was beyond the maximum of the sensitivity study. Hence, it is expected that street trees will act to
reduce street-level PM10 but increase NO2 concentrations in highly polluted canyons in most
circumstances. However, for streets with moderate or low emissions, trees will have an unambiguously
beneficial effect. In this case the situation is analogous to air in the centre of a large wooded stand,
where measurements have shown substantial concentration reductions60.
Note that the effect of trees on deposition rates and residence time is unlikely to be constant.
Residence time in street canyons will instead varying according to wind direction and speed. Deposition
velocities will vary with aerodynamic factors, and tree species/size and health, and season. No
sufficiently detailed dataset on urban tree health and net primary productivity exists to enable time-
varying deposition velocities to be built into CiTTy-Street.
Discussion
These results show that in-canyon vegetation offers a method to improve urban air quality
substantially. Urban greening can be effectively enacted on the local scale, providing a complement to
top-down policy and regulation that encourages local ownership of pollution mitigation strategy, and
helping to focus intervention on problem areas. Even if in-canyon pollutant sources are removed, in-
canyon vegetation continues to offer substantial pollutant removal benefits (very close to the single
canyon values in Table 1 and Fig. 2), with lower concentrations in the canyon than in the UBL above, in
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effect creating 'filtered avenues'. This effect is particularly important for pollutants with atmospheric
lifetimes long enough to be transported long distances, such as PM10 and ozone. Hence, greened urban
canyons may ultimately experience better air quality than in surrounding rural areas. The use of street
trees must be considered on a case-by-case basis. In streets with low street-level emissions (i.e. light
traffic), the filtered avenue effect will apply. Where street-level emissions are high, however, tree
planting must be used with the utmost caution. The specific combination of tree species, canopy
volume, canyon geometry and wind speed and direction must be modeled on a case-by-case basis.
Unlike tailpipe-based emission reduction strategies, greening also offers wider benefits, including
reduced surface temperature and noise pollution and increased biodiversity and amenity value45. But it
also offers challenges in ensuring vegetation health and minimizing damage to non-green infrastructure
(e.g. underground water infrastructure). There are potential feedbacks between urban climate and tree
health which cannot as yet be captured by the model. In reality, the existence of suitable plant species
and the ongoing costs of maintenance will determine the viability of green infrastructure. The results
presented here must be considered as part of the wide-ranging inter-disciplinary discussion on the merits
and implementation of urban greening50,51. In particular, we expect there to be strong interdependencies
between urban vegetation cover and urban water resources. It is not yet possible to treat such
interdependencies in CiTTy-Street or, to the authors’ knowledge, in any other urban land-atmosphere
model.
Many key uncertainties remain, which should be addressed as a matter of urgency. These are the
residence times of pollutants under different canyon geometries and vegetation type/coverage
(especially trees), the relationship between residence time and wind speed, deposition velocities of air
pollutants to canyon walls and vegetation which take account of life-cycle and seasonality, and the
behavior of vegetation in the street canyon environment. An alternative to green infrastructure for air
quality benefits would be to increase deposition using e.g. titanium oxide or activated carbon surface
coatings54,62, although research suggests that these should also be applied with care as studies have
indicated the re-volatisation of adsorbed NOx as HONO53, 55.
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Of the green infrastructure options available in a densely-populated urban area, in-canyon vegetation
offers by far the biggest benefits for street-level air quality, much greater than, for example, green roofs.
The results of this analysis show that street-level reductions of as much as 40% for NO2 and 60% for
PM10 are achievable using green walls. This suggests that the potential benefits of green infrastructure
for air quality have been substantially undervalued11-15. These results are consistent with field
measurements of deposition to vegetation and point to the utility of innovative urban greening e.g.
increasing canyon aspect ratios with green billboards for air quality control. Such changes may be
retrofitted to existing developments or designed into new ones, with potential implications for how
urban areas are structured. Green infrastructure in street canyons maximizes the ability of vegetation to
remove pollutants, and offers the potential for large and sustained improvements in urban air quality in
both single canyons, and across large areas of street canyons. It is therefore essential that the potential
pollution mitigation effects of in-canyon greening inform the future development of urban areas.By not
considering the adverse effects of tree planting on canyon ventilation, urban greening initiatives that
concentrate on increasing the number of urban trees, without consideration of location risk actively
worsening street-level air quality, whilst missing a considerable opportunity for air quality amelioration
Acknowledgements
The authors thank the UK Meteorological Office for providing wind speed data, Simon Chew of
Lancaster University for his assistance in drawing Fig. 1, and Prof. David Fowler of the Centre for
Ecology and Hydrology for a helpful review of an early draft. This project was funded by the UK
EPSRC Sustainable Urban Environment program, grant no. EP/F007426/1.
Supporting Information Available
Model description and further detail of results. Tables S1-S2. Figures S1-S7. This information is
available free of charge via the Internet at http://pubs.acs.org.
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Figure 1. Interaction of street canyon and UBL air: (a) Conceptual view of circulation in street canyons
redrawn from Vardoulakis et al.52, (b) comparison of mean modeled street canyon NOx (NOx=NO+NO2)
concentration anomaly with measurements at varying wind speeds, (c) CiTTy-Street model formulation.
Measurements are a year of data are from Göttinger Strasse, Hannover, which is an unvegetated canyon
with h/w1 ( http://www2.dmu.dk/atmosphericenvironment/Trapos/datadoc.htm). Anomalies are
calculated by subtracting background concentrations from in-canyon concentrations for both model and
measurements and normalizing against the mean concentration anomaly (see supporting information for
details). Data are split according to whether the measurement is on the leeward or windward side of the
canyon. Larger concentration anomalies are typically found at the leeward wall where pollutants tend to
accumulate52. The error bars indicate plus/minus one standard deviation from the mean. The model
results generally fall between those for the leeward and windward walls, consistent with that which
would be expected for a street canyon average value.
15
Figure 2. Modeled daytime average (0600-1800) in-canyon concentration reduction (relative to no
vegetation cover) as a function of wall or roof vegetation coverage, when the above-roof wind speed is 1
m s-1.
16
Figure 3. Effect of canyon residence time and canyon deposition velocity on modeled concentrations of
PM10 for a single street in central London. Residence time is defined as the e-folding time for a pollutant
initialized with a positive concentration in the lower compartment and a zero concentration in the upper
compartment with no emissions. Total canyon Vd,PM10 is expressed relative to the width of the canyon to
aid comparison of these results to future studies. The solid black line indicates the trajectory that may be
followed as green walls are added, for a fixed canyon geometry and wind speed. Whereas the dashed
black line shows how this trajectory may be altered by the addition of trees, which act to increase
residence time as well as deposition velocity. Note that these lines are illustrative only. The
compensation deposition velocity, Vd,PM10(P), is that above which an increase in residence time yields a
reduction in concentrations.
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Table 1. Modeled vegetation scenarios and expected in-canyon concentration reductions under different
canyon configurations and meteorological conditions.
Scenario
Deposition velocities (cm s-
1)a
Concentration change relative to control scenario
(%)
NO2
PM10
U=0.5 m s-1
Aspect ratio=1
Aspect ratio=2
Numerous
canyons
Single canyon
Control
(brick
walls/roofs)
Walls: 0.05
Roof: 0.05
Walls: 0.02
Roof: 0.2
Green walls
(100% coverage)
Walls: 0.3
Roof: 0.05
Walls: 0.64
Roof: 0.2
NO2: -8.9
PM10: -13.1
NO2: -6.4
PM10: -10.8
NO2: -19.9
PM10: -32.0
NO2: -42.9
PM10: -61.9
Green roof
Walls: 0.05
Roof: 0.3
Walls: 0.02
Roof: 0.64
NO2: -0.9
PM10: -1.1
a The choice of model deposition velocities is further discussed in the supporting information.
18
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24
Abstract art.
25
The effectiveness of green infrastructure to improve air
quality in urban street canyons
Thomas A. M. Pugh*, A. Robert MacKenzie, J. Duncan Whyatt, C. Nicholas Hewitt
To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: thomas.pugh@imk.fzk.de
This PDF file includes:
28 pages
Table S1 S2
Figure S1 - S7
26
Model description
Previous studies of the effect of deposition to urban vegetation on air pollutant concentrations have
used a zero-order method based upon average urban boundary layer (UBL) pollutant concentrations, the
height of the UBL, and the deposition velocity at the surface1-6, 43, 44. Below, this method is referred to as
the “constant boundary-layer concentration (CBLC) method”. The CBLC method makes two
assumptions that limit its utility for estimating the true deposition efficiency of urban surfaces. Firstly,
the assumption of constant air concentration in the UBL implies that the depositional loss is too small to
significantly impact the concentration; when that is not the case, the CBLC method will over-estimate
the deposition. Secondly, as described in the main paper, the CBLC method assumes a well-mixed
urban boundary layer (UBL), and so fails to account for the urban geometry which can inhibit mixing of
air in street canyons with air in the overlying UBL.
The CiTTyCAT model of atmospheric chemistry7 has been modified to represent an idealized urban
area containing street canyons. The new model variant, CiTTy-Street, is run with two compartments
(Fig. 1c of main text), the lower compartment represents a street canyon of height h and width w.
Depending on the treatment of the upper compartment, the canyon compartment can be considered to
represent a single street canyon or be representative of a large area of street canyons (in some cities this
may be practically city-wide). In this work, unless otherwise stated, h=w=20 m, which are common
street canyon dimensions (e.g. Table S1). The upper compartment represents the UBL, and was
parameterized with a depth, zUBL=H(td)-h, where H(td) is the UBL depth and td is time-of-day. Although
H is strictly a function of time of day, for the simulations here H was set to a typical daytime value of
1000 m. Mixing between the compartments was parameterized using the dimensionless air exchange
rates (E) calculated by Liu et al.9 for above-roof wind perpendicular to the along-canyon axis:
E= Q.T
V,
(S1)
where Q is the air ventilation rate (m3 s-1), V is the volume of the street canyon (m3) and T is a
characteristic timescale (s),
T= h
u
, (S2)
where u is the above roof wind speed (m s-1). In this work Q and V always appears as the ratio Q/V=M,
where M is the fraction of canyon air replenished by mixing with the UBL per second, and therefore the
length of the modeled canyon is arbitrary (The implications of finite street lengths are discussed below).
Eqs. S1 and S2 are used to define the mixing parameter, M:
h
u
E=M
. (S3)
27
For a fixed canyon aspect (h/w) ratio, an increase in h will result in a decrease in M and hence an
increase in the canyon air residence time. Conversely an increase in wind speed, u, will bring about a
decrease in the canyon air residence time. Liu et al.9 calculated E=0.05 for a canyon of h/w=1. The
change in concentration, ΔC, of a species, i, in the lower compartment, due to mixing over model time
step, Δt, is therefore
 
Δt,MCC=ΔC Li,Ui,Li,
(S4)
and in the upper compartment,
 
 
ΔtB+
r+wz wh
MCC=ΔC i
UBL
Ui,i,LUi,
, (S5)
where zUBL is the depth of the upper compartment in meters, r is the width of the roof between two
adjacent street canyons, and subscript U and L denote the upper and lower compartments respectively.
The term (h·w)/(zUBL·(w+r)) in Eq. S5 accounts for the different areas of the UCL and the UBL,
including the fact that the upper compartment is wider than the lower compartment due to the space
occupied by the buildings between street canyons (Fig. S1). In order to prevent the build-up of
unrealistic concentrations, the upper compartment was ventilated by predefined background air with
concentrations (Ci,B) at a rate determined by the above roof wind speed:
 
f
u
CC=B Ui,Bi,i
, (S6)
where f is the length scale (m) that the model is being used to represent, i.e. the model footprint. In this
work f=10 000 m for modeling large areas of street canyons, and f=40 m for single canyon modeling
The modeled mixing rate out of the street canyon was based on a parameterization developed for
wind flow perpendicular to the street canyon axis9, this was a reasonable approximation for the purposes
of this work as parallel flow is less effective at ventilating the street canyon vertically due to the lower
roughness generated10,11. Under perpendicular or near-perpendicular flow, vl, the along-canyon
component of the in-canyon wind speed vector v, will be close to zero and horizontal mixing can be
neglected12. Under parallel or near-parallel flow, horizontal along-canyon mixing becomes important,
and a cumulative effect of emission in long streets has been observed13. The influence of dispersion at
street intersections is uncertain. They can result in very limited canyon ventilation (for instance in the
case of crossroads), in efficient mixing with neighboring canyons (when the in-canyon flow impinges
on a building facet, creating a dividing streamline), or in increased ventilation to the UBL (for instance,
in the case of in-canyon flow encountering a wall perpendicular to the flow direction, such as at a T-
junction)14, creating a very spatially heterogeneous response across an urban area. This effect is
recognized but was not treated explicitly, as it has been shown that overall pollutant retention for an
idealized grid of street canyons (an array of cubic obstacles in this case) is largely independent of wind
28
direction for the range of possible oblique flows15. Further, pollutant retention for oblique flows was
higher than for the average of parallel and perpendicular flows. Hence the parameterization of Liu et al.9
is expected to be broadly representative of M under all wind directions across an urban area. When
considering mixing within a single canyon, however, horizontal mixing rates will need to be considered
for cases where the above-roof wind is not near-perpendicular. These cases are discussed further below.
Traffic-induced turbulence was not explicitly considered in this study. Traffic-induced turbulence
may be expected to dominate over wind-induced turbulence when the above-roof wind speed is less
than ~1.2 m s-1 16. Therefore for very low wind speeds in high-traffic canyons the Liu et al.9
parameterization may underestimate M. However, the parameterizations of Liu et al.9 were not modified
here for these low wind speeds as the results presented in this study also apply to canyons with low
amounts of, or no, traffic, in which cases traffic-induced turbulence will be absent or minimal. Under
these conditions the air tends to stagnate in the canyon, as predicted by the model of Liu et al.9.
The geometry of street canyons means that, in sunny conditions, a proportion of the canyon will be in
shadow. This proportion will change according to the azimuth and zenith angles of the sun relative to
the street, and according to the aspect ratio of the street canyon. In overcast conditions, nearly all solar
radiation will be diffuse and the shadowing effect may be ignored. Koepke et al.17 have calculated the
reduction in photolysis rates of NO2 within street canyons for a range of aspect ratios and solar zenith
angles. For the conceptual modeling studies reported here, the simplifying assumption of Koepke et al.17
was adopted, i.e. that street orientation within the urban area is random, and therefore the reduction in
photolysis rate is averaged across all possible street orientations. Koepke et al.17 show that the principal
control on the average photolysis rate reduction is the aspect ratio, rather than the solar zenith angle, for
those solar zenith angles found in the middle-latitudes. As a result, they suggest an average NO2
photolysis rate reduction of 60% for a canyon of h/w=1. This reduction was applied in CiTTy-Street for
all photolysis rates in the lower compartment. Differences in the spectral albedo of the canyon surface
may result in some variation of the reduction for different wavelengths. However, Koepke et al.17
determined the surface albedo to have a relatively minor effect compared to h/w and solar zenith angle.
All runs described in the study described herein were carried out under clear sky conditions, unless
stated otherwise, because these are conditions under which stomatal deposition to vegetation is expected
to be greatest. The implications of this are discussed in Section S5.
Emission fluxes of NO, NO2, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and PM10 were made into the
lower (street canyon) compartment. Aerosol particle concentration was treated as a passive scalar, in
common with other approaches18, implying that coagulation and growth/evaporation do not significantly
affect the overall particle deposition mass flux on the time and space scales characteristic of the canyon.
No emissions were made into the upper compartment. Liu et al.9 calculate that for a canyon of h/w=1,
29
the timescale of the primary circulation is about one quarter of the pollutant retention time within the
street canyon. Therefore the air within a street canyon may be considered well-mixed relative to the
timescale for exchange with the UBL; the assumption of instantaneous mixing is discussed further
below. For the sensitivity runs, emissions were supplied by the National Atmospheric Emissions
Inventory (NAEI)19, for central London (51.522ºN, 0.157ºE) for the year 2008. Nitrogen oxide (NOx =
NO + NO2) emissions into the modeled canyon were 8.2 mg m-2 hr-1 and PM10 emissions were 0.58 mg
m-2 hr-1. NAEI emissions are categorized by source type, and only those from road transport were
emitted into the canyon. The speciation of NOx emissions was specified as 18% as NO2 and 82% as NO
following the Air Quality Expert Group20. Biogenic VOC emissions (see, e.g., Donovan et al.4) were not
considered in this study, although the model is capable of treating their emission and chemistry.
In the lower compartment, deposition was assumed to occur to both canyon walls and floor. It is
assumed that horizontal and vertical mixing rates are equal, which is consistent with the formation of
the rotational circulation typically seen in computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling studies21 and
shown schematically in Fig. 1a of the main text. Deposition velocities in CiTTy-Street were prescribed
separately for the wall (
Vd,i
h
) and floor (
Vd,i
w
) surfaces, according to measurements made over the
material making up those surfaces for species i. The overall rate of change of species i due to deposition
is then calculated by
.
2V
h
V
+
w
C=
dt
dC w
id,
hid,
Li,
Li,
(S7)
where length scales w and h are as defined in Fig 1(c) of the main text. In the upper compartment
deposition occurs to roofs only, and was parameterized as
,
w+r r
z
V
C=
dt
dC rid,
Ui,
Ui,
(S8)
where
Vd,i
r
is the deposition velocity to that roof. All roofs are assumed to be similar. Fractional
coverage of green roofs, can be accommodated by scaling the deposition velocity accordingly. In
principle, Vd,i is also a function of the type and health of plant used to provide the green wall or roof,
and the density of planting. Since in this study no particular kind of green infrastructure was being
modeled, constant values of Vd,i were chosen from the literature that are characteristic of gas and particle
deposition to urban plant canopies (see Deposition Velocities section below). Unless otherwise stated,
r=20 m. Studies have shown that there is variation in pollutant concentration within a street canyon due
to the circulation driven by the above-roof wind, and the existence of point emissions sources22,23. In
particular pollutant concentrations have been shown to be relatively higher at the base of the leeward
wall when the above-roof wind is perpendicular to the canyon, and to show a generally negative
30
gradient with height (assuming a traffic emission source at the canyon base)22. CiTTy-Street cannot
capture these inhomogeneities but, as deposition rates vary linearly with concentration, the average
deposition rate within the canyon is unaffected as long as the timescale for mixing within the canyon is
shorter than the timescale for a pollutant concentration to be depleted via deposition. For an in-canyon
NO2 deposition rate equal to the 100% green wall scenario described in Table 1 of the main paper, a
10% depletion of in-canyon NO2 occurs on a timescale of 340 s. Liu et al.9 found that the rotation
timescale for in-canyon air is ~15T. Therefore, for the longest canyon residence time investigated here,
T=40 s (equivalent to u=0.5 m s-1 when h=20 m), the rotation timescale is ~600 s. The error in
deposition rate introduced by the well-mixed approximation is therefore less than ~12% and decreases
with residence time (~3% when u=2.0 m s-1 and h=20 m).
PM10 particles are substantially larger than trace gas molecules and therefore their distribution within
the canyon will be affected to a greater extent by gravitational settling. However, the terminal settling
velocity of a 10μm particle in air at 293K and 1013 hPa is 3 mm s-1; significantly smaller than likely
vertical velocities generated by turbulence and recirculation within the canyon.
To summarize, the model is characterized by five length scales (zUBL, r, w, h and f), one
dimensionless exchange scale (E) and four velocity scales (u,
rid,
V
,
w
id,
V
,
h
id,
V
). In this study the model
was run for periods of 18 hours commencing at 0000Z on the 21st June, with the first 6 hours (mostly
under night-time conditions) being discarded as spin-up. The residence time of air in the lower (street
canyon, h/w=1) compartment was calculated as 21T, where residence time is the e-folding time for a
pollutant initialized with a positive concentration in the lower compartment and a zero concentration in
the upper compartment, and no emissions are allowed.
Deposition velocities
The following details are given in addition to those in the “Deposition velocities” section in the main
text. For PM10 deposition no differentiation was made between horizontal and vertical vegetation
surfaces since leaf angle varies considerably relative to the surface, and thus is implicitly incorporated in
the deposition velocity used.
PM10 deposition velocities to horizontal and vertical brick and concrete surfaces were calculated
following the model for rough surfaces described by Piskunov24. Median particle size was assumed to
be 3 μm. Roughness lengths for the particle calculations were taken to be 3 mm for brick and 1 mm for
concrete, and the friction velocity was set to 0.2 m s-1. The mean particle size was selected for
consistency with particle volume distributions measured from traffic emissions25, and to avoid the sub-
micrometer size range for which deposition is particularly uncertain. Theoretical models of dry
31
deposition (e.g. Petroff and Zhang26) predict that deposition velocity continues to reduce for particles
below 1 μm in aerodynamic diameter, before increasing again for particles less than ~100 nm in
aerodynamic diameter. Yet field measurements suggest that deposition velocities may be relatively
constant in the range 0.3 10 μm27, with one study predicting deposition velocities that increase with
decreasing particle diameter, yielding very large sub-micron deposition velocities (~10-30 cm s-1)28.
Thus, based on measurements, assuming a particle diameter of 3 μm appears representative of
deposition velocities for most of the sub 10 μm particle mass, and may even underestimate sub-micron
deposition. Note that these assumptions are less likely to hold for the ultra-fine size fraction, of ~100 nm
or less in diameter. There has been some discussion of a possible “saturation effect” which leads to
reduced PM deposition on leaves as deposited material accumulates27. However the authors know of no
systematic study which tests this hypothesis. In this work leaf surfaces were assumed to be washed
clean by rainfall with sufficient regularity that any saturation effect could be disregarded.
Nitric acid was assigned a deposition velocity of 8.0 cm s-1 following measurements by Aikawa et
al.29 above a concrete roof in Kobe, Japan. Although this value is high, the modeled scenarios in this
paper were not sensitive to the nitric acid deposition velocity. Brick and vegetation surfaces were used
for the walls and/or roofs as specified in Table 1 of the main paper. The canyon floor was approximated
as a coarse concrete surface in lieu of published deposition velocities to tarmac. In this work, CiTTy-
Street was run for a single day. Over longer time periods, accumulations of pollutants on canyon
surfaces are expected to be washed away by rainfall. This assumption may have to be reassessed if the
results of this study are applied in a region subject to prolonged dry periods.
The dependence of model results on the overall in-canyon deposition velocity (green wall + hard
surfaces) is discussed below and given by vertical sections through Figure S5 (i.e., model results for a
given residence time).
Model mixing evaluation
The authors are aware of no available dataset against which to compare the modeled concentrations
in vegetated canyons. This is probably because, until now, a measurable effect was not expected. Some
field measurements were available, however, to compare the mixing performance of the model, upon
which the results of this study are dependent. The CFD model of Liu et al.9, from which the canyon
mixing parameterization is taken, has also been evaluated against wind tunnel studies.
From Eq. 2 in the main text, a decrease in above-roof wind speed is expected to bring about an
increase in canyon retention time, and hence an increase in pollutant concentration is expected.
However a decrease in above-roof wind speed will also tend to lessen dispersion of pollutants from the
32
urban area as a whole, leading to higher boundary layer pollutant concentrations, and therefore higher
canyon concentrations. In order to control for this effect it is necessary to have simultaneous
measurements both within and above the street canyon. Measurement data meeting this criterion
recorded at three different street canyon sites was used (Table S1) to control for the effect of above-roof
concentrations and hence illustrate the wind speed effect on pollutant retention. The street canyon model
was then compared against this measurement data.
At each of these sites NOx concentration measurements were made at street level on one side of the
street canyon, and at a nearby rooftop measurement site. Wind speed and direction measurements were
collected from a mast 10 m above the rooftop level. For the following analysis only measurements
recorded when the wind direction was within a 12.5° arc of being perpendicular to the canyon axis were
used. These measurements were sorted into windward and leeward groups, according to the wind
direction relative to the position of the street-level measurement site. Larger concentration anomalies are
typically found at the leeward wall where pollutants tend to accumulate30. Both rooftop and street-level
measurements showed a correlation with wind speed, although this correlation was more noisy at street-
level due to the wide variation in traffic emissions with time. In order to separate the street canyon
effect from other effects, the difference between rooftop
 
r
x
NO
and street-level
 
s
x
NO
concentrations was
found:
.
r
x
s
xx NONO=ΔNO
(S9)
In order to correct for the effect of varying traffic emissions within the street canyon, ΔNOx was divided
by a correction factor CE following Ketzel et al.31,
E
x
c
xC
ΔNO
=ΔNO
, (S10)
where
,
E
E
=CE
(S11)
in which,
 
HHlL Ne+Ne=E
, (S12)
where eL and eH are the emission factors for light vehicles (e.g. cars, vans) and heavy vehicles (e.g.
trucks, buses) respectively, and NL and NH are the number of light and heavy vehicles. Emission factors
were taken from Schädler et al.32.
E
was the mean emission rate over the entire dataset. Following this
correction
c
x
ΔNO
was binned according to wind speed to aid comparison between the normalised
measurements and the model. Finally a normalised concentration anomaly for the street canyon (ANOx)
was calculated by
33
   
c
x
c
x
NOx ΔNO
uΔNO
=uA
. (S13)
Using ANOx allowed the mixing response of the model to changes in wind speed to be evaluated
independent of other factors. Figure S1 shows ANOx as a function of wind speed for the three different
canyons observed in the TRAPOS experiment (http://www2.dmu.dk/atmosphericenvironment
/Trapos/datadoc.htm). More concentration variation with wind speed were seen on the windward side of
the canyon, as concentrations here tended to be suppressed under all but very low (less than ~2 m s-1)
wind speeds.
The model output plotted in these runs was produced by running the model for each wind speed bin
using the same setup as described in Section S1, with f=40 m. It was then processed according to Eqs.
S9 and S13 (the model uses a constant emission and therefore has no need for emissions normalization).
The model output fell between the normalized concentration anomaly for the windward and leeward
walls, as would be expected for a canyon-average statistic, for all three street canyons. This indicates
that the CiTTy-Street model is able to represent well the change in the canyon pollutant retention effect
with changes in above-roof wind speed.
Evaluation against absolute measurements
The model setup was adjusted for an explicit comparison with measurements from Göttinger Strasse
(Table S2) for 21/06/94. Initial conditions for NO, NO2 and O3 were taken from measurement data, and
the measured temperature data was used. Photolysis was set for clear sky conditions, consistent with the
net radiation recorded on this date. NAEI emission speciation was used, but NOx and VOC emissions
were scaled according to traffic counts and the emission factors of Schädler et al.32. The model footprint
was set as f=40 m. Background concentrations and the above roof wind speed were set to match daytime
average UBL measurements (32 ppbv O3, 14 ppbv NO2, 8 ppbv NO). Figure S2 shows good agreement
between the model and mean street-level measurements for NO2, indicating that this model is able to
simulate well the concentration differential between street canyon and UBL.
Setup for sensitivity runs.
Initial and background concentrations for the model sensitivity runs are summarized in Table S2. For
the numerous canyon runs background concentrations are taken from measurements made at Writtle
(51.52ºN, 0.13ºE) during the TORCH measurement campaign (25/07/03-31/08/03). These
measurements were chosen to give as wide a range of background species as possible. PM10
34
concentrations were taken from an urban background site in London Bloomsbury (51.73ºN, 0.41ºE). For
single canyon runs, upwind NO, NO2, O3 and CO concentrations were also specified using London
Bloomsbury measurements.
Sensitivity of results to canyon volume
The absolute reductions in modeled street canyon concentrations were virtually insensitive to the size
of a canyon of a given aspect ratio. Increasing h and w decreased the deposition rate per unit volume in
the canyon. However, following Eq. S2, as h is increased, T must also increase proportionally, for a
constant wind speed. Therefore, for larger h and w, the deposition flux now acts for a proportionally
longer time due to the increased canyon residence time. As a result, the integrated loss per unit volume
of a pollutant in the street canyon is invariant with canyon size (assuming h/w=1). When h=w and
h
id,
V
=
w
id,
V
, Eq. S7 becomes
.
3V
h
C=
dt
dC id,
Li,
Li,
(S14)
For a species X, which is not emitted (e.g. O3),
   
.
3V XX
Xd, LP+
h
X
=
dT
Xd
(S15)
Assuming PX≈LX and integrating over time until the characteristic timescale, T,
 
 
 
 
,dt
h
V
=
X
X
Xd T
=t
Xd,
T
X
0
0
(S16)
gives
 
 
u
V
h
TV
=
X
XXd,Xd,
T
0
ln
or
 
.
u
V
e
h
TV
e=XΔ
Xd,Xd,
(S18)
That is, for a constant wind speed
 
XΔ
is independent of canyon size.
Sensitivity to cloud cover
The runs described in this work were carried out under clear sky conditions. The reduced photolysis
rate of NO2, J(NO2), under cloudy skies would be expected to lead to higher ambient NO2
(S17)
35
concentrations. Note, however, that the 50% reduction of peak J(NO2) calculated by CiTTy-Street for
100% cloud cover is similar to the 60% reduction of all photolysis rates applied inside the canyon
during clear skies to account for shading. This canyon shading reduction was not applied under cloudy
skies where all incident radiation is diffuse. Hence, the modeled reductions in NO2 due to addition of in-
canyon vegetation under cloudy skies were virtually identical to those under clear skies.
The reduction in direct radiation due to increased cloud cover may also reduce stomatal opening33,
and consequently the NO2 and O3 deposition velocities. The treatment of deposition in CiTTy-Street
does not directly calculate this effect; however, the deposition velocities employed (Table S1) were
collected under a variety of conditions and are therefore believed to be broadly representative of a wide
variety of conditions. To assess the importance of stomatal closure due to reduced solar irradiance the
bulk canopy stomatal resistance equation, rs, of Wesely34 was used,
TGis FFr=r
, (S19)
where ri is the minimum bulk canopy resistance for water vapor, and FG and FT are modification factors
for solar irradiance and surface air temperature respectively.
2
0.1
200
1
+G
+=FG
, (S20)
where G is the solar irradiance (W m-2). At a solar irradiance of 1000 W m-2, broadly equivalent to a
solar zenith angle of 0° under clear skies (25), FG=1.04. In comparison, a solar irradiance of 400 W m-2,
broadly equivalent to a solar zenith angle of 0° under cloudy skies17, yields FG=1.25. Suggesting that the
variability of NO2 deposition velocity due to changes in irradiance is well within the variability of the
measurements listed in the Deposition Velocities section
This study focuses on daytime deposition, as most street-level population exposure is likely to occur
during the daytime. The stomatal component of deposition for NO2 will tend towards zero at night-time,
when solar irradiance is zero. As a result the deposition rate of NO2 to vegetation is likely to decrease at
night. Therefore the reductions in ambient NO2 concentrations yielded by canyon vegetation may be
smaller at night-time; however, such extrapolations are not straightforward due to (a) the diminished
height of the night-time UBL which will tend to increase street-level pollutant concentrations and hence
deposition rates, and (b) reduced traffic emissions during the night. Such a decrease is not expected for
PM10 deposition rates, for which non-stomatal deposition to vegetation surfaces is dominant.
Sensitivity to emission magnitude
The modeled relative reductions in street canyon mixing ratios of NO2 were not strongly sensitive to
a doubling or halving of pollutant emissions. For instance a halving of NOx, VOC and PM emissions led
36
to a change in the NO2 reduction caused by moving from the control scenario to the 100% green wall
scenario from -11.6% to -11.9% (for the single canyon run). Hence the modeled percentage NO2
reductions are likely to be valid for the concentrations of NO2 found in most urban areas. The changes
in O3 were also quite robust. Halving the NOx and VOC emissions changed the O3 reduction caused by
moving from the control scenario to the 100% green wall scenario from -14.9% to -16.9 %. The slightly
larger variation for O3 was due to the smaller NO titration effect caused by the lower NOx
concentrations. This led to higher overall in-canyon O3 concentrations, and hence higher deposition
fluxes. PM10 concentrations are not affected by chemical feedbacks in CiTTy-Street, and hence
percentage PM10 reductions remained constant with a change in emission flux. These studies also
indicated that biogenic VOC emissions, which might increase with canyon greening depending on the
species used, do not make a significant difference to the canyon concentrations. Assessing the effect of
canyon greening on regional-scale photochemistry would require biogenic VOC emissions to be
included.
Sensitivity to canyon residence time
The sensitivity of pollutant concentrations to canyon residence time was tested by varying u from 0.5
m s-1 to 20 m s-1, equivalent to residence times of 840 s and 21 s respectively for the modeled canyon.
Figure S3 illustrates that the street canyon NO and NO2 mixing ratios increased with residence time, as
the reduced mixing rate out of the street canyon caused a greater build-up of these emitted species. The
NO/NO2 ratio increased with residence time, as the capacity of the canyon atmosphere to oxidize NO to
NO2 was overwhelmed. The effect of this change in NO/NO2 ratio is seen in the street canyon ozone
mixing ratios which decreased with increasing residence time. This was due to a combination of
increased NO titration of O3 and a greater influence of deposition on O3 mixing ratios as residence time
increased. Replacement of brick walls with green walls led to reductions in NO2 and O3 in both canyon
and UBL, and the reduction became more marked as residence time increased. A modest increase in NO
mixing ratio was observed in the 100% green wall scenario due to the reduction in its O3 sink. Street
canyon PM10 concentrations showed a limited increase with residence time in the control run, but
addition of a substantial deposition velocity in the green wall run yielded a decrease in concentration
with increasing residence time. The tendency for UBL NOx mixing ratios to increase with residence
time was a result of decreased dilution of the UBL by background concentrations as the longer residence
times implied a lower wind speed. The same effect is seen in the UBL PM10 concentrations, although
the effect is much more modest due to the lower PM10 emissions.
37
Figure S1 shows that the greatest anomaly in canyon pollutant concentrations compared to those in
the UBL was found at low above-roof wind speed, when the canyon residence times were greatest. In
addition, low wind speeds were effective in dispersing pollution in the UBL, increasing both UBL and
canyon pollutant concentrations. Therefore, exceedences of limit values for pollutant concentrations are
more likely to occur at low wind speeds. These calculations show that the efficacy of canyon vegetation
for pollutant removal is greatest at low wind speeds (i.e. long canyon residence times). Figure S4
illustrates how the modeled in-canyon pollutant concentration varied with wind speed in the control run
and the 100% green wall run for a canyon of h/w=1. The pollutant removal properties of the canyon
vegetation were emphasized under the conditions of highest pollution. Therefore, street canyon
vegetation not only results in a substantial overall reduction of in-canyon pollutants, it also forms a
natural buffer against very high concentrations. Furthermore, the potential pollutant reductions due to
vegetation are substantially larger in a canyon with h/w=2. The magnitude of these increased reductions
is sufficient to more than cancel out the increased pollutant concentration in canyons of higher aspect
ratio under the control run.
Along-canyon mixing
The importance of along-canyon ventilation can be estimated using the horizontal mixing parameter,
  
, (S21)
where l is the length of the canyon, vl is the along-canyon component of the in-canyon wind speed
vector, v, and β is a dimensionless factor accounting for aerodynamic resistance to mixing at the
intersection. If MH M then along-canyon ventilation is important. In this case, the general conclusions
of this study remain valid but the canyon residence times calculated in the main text will not be suitable,
and mixing rates should be recalculated by including an MH term in Equations S4 and S5.
Consider an extreme case where all the air reaching the end of a canyon is ventilated to the UBL, l is
short (50m), h=w=20 m, vl=v and β=1. Following the average wind speeds between Marylebone Road
(canyon) and Kew Gardens (UBL) in 2008 35, v=0.3u. In this case M=0.0025 and MH=0.006. Combining
S3 and S21, and substituting u for vl,
M
lE
β
=MH
0.3h
, (S22)
thus in this case MH=2.4M. Therefore, the total mixing rate out of the canyon can be defined as
MTOT=M+MH=3.4M. As M α u (Equation S3), the value of u required to generate MTOT through the
vertical mixing scheme of CiTTy-Street alone is 3.4 times that required to generate M. Thus, Fig. S4 can
be used to examine the effect of along-canyon ventilation. For instance, in this extreme case, u=1 m s-1
38
would produce the same results as generated for u=3.4 m s-1 using the vertical mixing scheme alone.
The predicted reductions in pollutant concentration due to the use of green walls are still substantial, but
are significantly reduced compared to the base case of an infinitely long canyon and perpendicular
winds. It should be emphasized, however, that such large modifications to the results of this study are
unlikely in reality as (a) the street canyon considered in the extreme example is short, (b) the along-
canyon wind speed component only forms part of the overall in-canyon wind speed, and (c) β is
dependent on intersection type and is currently unknown, but expected to be less than one. In the case of
an intersection between two greened canyons (e.g. large-scale greening), only the component of β
relevant to mixing with the UBL is important, as the greened canyons form a continuum for the
purposes of air retention within a greened street.
A more realistic case might be for a street canyon within a dense urban area (i), with l=100m,
vl=0.5v, and β=0.75. In this scenario MH=0.45M, giving MTOT=1.45M. In this case, pollutant
concentration reductions due to urban greening would be smaller, but still close to those for a
perpendicular wind (Fig. S4). However, the maximum single canyon pollutant concentration reductions
reported in the main text will only be realized under the case of a near-perpendicular wind. It is
expected that vl will decrease with increasing aspect ratio, and thus MH will reduce along with M as
aspect ratio increases. More work is required to deduce the form of this relationship.
Street Trees
Trees represent an obvious way of increasing in-canyon deposition rates, as they may have a very high
leaf area index (defined as m2 leaf per m2 ground). Two rows of large trees can have a leaf area equal to
or exceeding that of a green wall27. However, because of their potential to alter very substantially the
exchange efficiency, E, of a canyon (see Eq. 2 of the main text), in addition to deposition velocities, it
remains difficult to quantify the effect of street trees on in-canyon pollutant concentrations. The
exchange efficiency will, among other variables, be sensitive to number of trees, tree height, crown
dimensions, crown density and exact positioning and layout of trees within the canyon. Many of these
variables will change dynamically as the trees grow or respond to seasonal changes or environmental
stresses. Thus it is likely that a generalized exchange efficiency for trees in street canyons does not exist,
and it must be calculated individually for each case. Several wind tunnel and computational fluid
dynamical studies have demonstrated a reduction in E (i.e. increase in canyon residence time) with
street tree planting, showing the general sign of the modification37-42. Only one of these studies
however, has included a consideration of dry deposition42. This study suggested a small role for
39
deposition in reduction pollutant concentrations, but importantly only investigated a very small portion
of the parameter space.
Although CiTTy-Street is unable to simulate the complex fluid-dynamical flows needed to calculate the
exchange efficiency for a particular canyon with trees, it can be used to map the parameter space due to
changes in exchange efficiency (or residence time) and deposition velocity. Using the model setup for a
single canyon, as described above, a bi-variate sensitivity study was carried out, varying the canyon
residence time and the deposition velocity of the canyon surfaces, to probe the likely response of a
single urban canyon to the addition of street trees. The results of this study are shown in Figs. 3 and S5.
Deposition velocities are expressed relative to the floor area of the canyon to aid comparison of our
results to other works, i.e.





(S23)
where, 
is the canyon deposition velocity for pollutant i. For NO2 in this scenario, an increase in
canyon residence time always led to an increased NO2 mixing ratio, although the mixing ratio increase
became less marked as Vd increased. 
= 1.0 cm s-1 is a factor of 1.5 greater than that estimated for
100% green walls. Note, however, that the model response was strongly dependent upon the scenario,
specifically the in-canyon emission flux of NOx. The emission fluxes used here are typical of central
London. At lower NOx emission fluxes a compensation deposition velocity could be reached at which
the canyon deposition velocity effect balanced the residence time effect, leading to a decrease, rather
than an increase, in in-canyon NO2 concentrations. An equivalent compensation deposition velocity is
clearly seen for PM10 at 
=0.4 cm s-1 in the lower panel of Figure S5. This canyon deposition
velocity for PM10 is only 27% of that for the 100% green wall scenario.
Top-of-canyon fluxes
Figure S6 (left) shows the reductions in NOx flux at the top of the canyon caused by the different in-
canyon surfaces for several values of canyon residence time. Compared to the NOx emission flux of
2.12 x 1012 molecules cm-2 s-1, deposition to a standard canyon with brick walls and concrete road
(control scenario), along with chemical losses of NOx, led to a NOx flux reduction of 8.6% at the top of
the canyon, for u=1 m s-1. Inclusion of a green wall with 50% coverage increased this to a 12.6%
reduction, and a green wall with 100% coverage gave a 16.1% reduction. Hence the inclusion of in-
canyon vegetation can also make non-negligible reductions in the net pollutant fluxes emitted from an
urban area.
40
The efficacy of in-canyon vegetation as opposed to green roofs for air pollutant removal is
particularly demonstrated by Figure S6 (right), where the NO2 deposition fluxes to a vegetated canyon
were several times larger than those to green roofs. Indeed, under long residence times, the brick walled
canyon was more effective that the green roof at NO2 removal, owing to higher NO2 concentrations
within the canyon.
The recent UK National Ecosystem Assessment assumes that urbanization of vegetated land has
reduced the potential sinks for pollutants36. To investigate this hypothesis a single-box CiTTyCAT run
was carried out for a 100%-vegetated planar land surface and compared the calculated NO2 deposition
fluxes with those for our CiTTy-Street runs (Figure S7). A street canyon with 100% green walls was a
more efficient NO2 sink than a planar vegetated surface at all wind speeds. Therefore it may be
concluded that 100% greening is not required in order for urban areas to provide a pollutant sink that is
as efficient as those green spaces they replace. For the central London wind speed scenario used in this
work, the level of wall greening required was ~50%.
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on traffic-induced particle dispersion using microscale simulations. J. Environ. Man. 2012, 94, 91-101.
43 Tallis, M.; Taylor, G.; Sinnett, D.; Freer-Smith, P.; Estimating the removal of atmospheric
particulate pollution by the urban tree canopy of London, under current and future environments. Land.
Urban Plan. 2011, 103, 129-138.
44 Escobedo, F. J.; Nowak, D. J.; Spatial heterogeneity and air pollution removal by an urban forest.
Land. Urban Plan. 2009, 90, 102-110.
44
Table S1. Characteristics of the street canyon measurement sites. Data was gathered as part of the
TRAPOS campaign. See http://www2.dmu.dk/atmosphericenvironment/Trapos/datadoc.htm for more
details.
Site
Height (m)
Width (m)
Measurement year
Measurement
institution
Göttinger Strasse,
Hannover
20
25
1994
Niedersächsisches
Landesamt für
Ökologie, Hannover
Schildhornstrasse,
Berlin
19 (NE), 22 (SW)
26
1995
Senatsverwaltung für
Stadtentwicklung,
Berlin
Jagtvej,
Copenhagen
18
25
1994
National
Environmental
Research Institute,
Denmark
45
Table S2. Initial/background concentrations for the numerous canyon and single canyon runs.
Species
Numerous canyons (ppbv)
Single canyon (ppbv)
NO
2.8
16.5
NO2
10.6
30
O3
34
18
PAN
0.27
0.27
HCHO
1.8
1.8
H2O2
0.15
0.15
C6H6
0.11
0.11
C7H8
0.24
0.24
CH3COCH3
2
2
CO
190
400
CH4
1745
1745
PM10
36 μg m-3
36 μg m-3
46
Figure S1. Variation of street canyon NOx concentration with wind speed using a year of hourly data
from three different street canyon measurement sites: Göttinger Strasse, Hannover (top); Jagtvej,
Copenhagen (middle); Schildhornstrasse, Berlin (bottom). Anomalies were calculated by subtracting
background measurements from in-canyon measurements and normalizing against traffic emissions and
the mean concentration anomaly. Data is split according to whether the measurement is on the leeward
(blue line) or windward (red line) side of the canyon. Output from the CiTTy-Street model is shown by
the black line.
47
Figure S2. Comparison of modeled (dashed blue lines) NO2 and O3 with measurements (solid black
lines) for Göttinger Strasse, Hanover, Germany on 21/06/94.
48
Figure S3. Change in modeled mixing ratios (concentration for PM10) with increasing residence time for
the control scenario (left) and the 100% green wall scenario (right) for the numerous canyons setup. The
solid lines show street canyon mixing ratios and the dashed lines show UBL mixing ratios.
49
Figure S4. The variation of modeled in-canyon concentrations of NO2 (top) and PM10 (bottom) with
above-roof wind speed for a Central London canyon of h/w=1 (blue) and of h/w=2 (black). Solid lines
show control runs and dashed lines show 100% green wall runs. The greatest pollutant concentrations
reductions by vegetation are coincident with the conditions of highest pollution (see text).
50
Figure S5. Effect of canyon residence time and canyon deposition velocity on modeled mixing ratios of
NO2 for a single canyon in central London. Total canyon Vd,NO2 is expressed relative to the width of the
canyon to aid comparison of these results to future studies. Note that unlike Vd,PM10(P), Vd,NO2(P)
(beyond the bounds of this plot) is not constant with residence time due to the effect of chemical
transformations.
51
Figure S6. Left: Variation of top-of-canyon NOx fluxes with canyon residence time with and without
green walls. Right: Variation of NO2 deposition fluxes. Solid lines show fluxes in the street canyon
(relative to canyon width, w), and dashed lines show fluxes in the UBL (relative to building width, r). In
these simulations 50% wall greening has the same area of vegetation as a 100% greened roof.
52
Figure S7. Comparison of NO2 deposition fluxes to an urban surface with a 100% vegetated planar
surface (i.e. pre-urbanization).
... However, a deterioration of air quality was also reported by [34]. Concerning green walls and green roofs, only a few studies investigated their air quality improvements in street canyon environment and a wide range of reductions was reported [27,[48][49][50]. Overall, the most appropriate approach for vegetation and especially for trees in urban environments is "the right tree in the right street" [28]. ...
... Green walls are implemented in the central building of the neighborhood on the surface of the façade without windows, and a green roof on the roof surface of this building (Figure 1c). The aerodynamic effects of green walls and green roofs are neglected, and deposition is estimated considering a leaf area index (LAI) of 1 [48,53]. ...
... In addition, the reduction in concentrations is not large, and the effects of trees and hedgerows are found to be more important. Previous studies (e.g., [48,49]) estimated different pollutant concentrations reduction in a street canyon depending on street canyon geometry, and LAI. Qin et al. [49] observed that larger H/W lower concentration reductions. ...
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Cited By (since 1996):40 , Export Date: 12 November 2013 , Source: Scopus , The following values have no corresponding Zotero field: Author Address: Norwegian Institute for Air Research, P.O. Box 100, NO-2027 Kjeller, Norway Author Address: School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
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