Smart watering reduces heat at Adelaide Airport
A trial conducted by SA Water and Adelaide Airport has found the smart use of water to maintain soil moisture and cultivate green space can reduce average ambient temperatures by 3°C on warm days and potentially lower heat-influenced costs such as air conditioning and aircraft take-off.
The concept’s creator, SA Water Manager of Environmental Opportunities Greg Ingleton (pictured), said the promising findings could help improve the livability of cities around the world — especially hot and dry places like Australia.
“By supporting green infrastructure and the intelligent use of water, we can cool urban areas and reduce the impact of heatwaves and climate change,” he said.
“The extensive hard surfaces and cleared land around airports means they can often become heatsinks, which has impacts on both terminal and airside operations that need to be managed.”
In its third year, the study focuses on sustainable outcomes, with recycled water irrigating four hectares of Lucerne 600 m south of the airport’s runway, to also demonstrate the space can produce revenue-generating food crops.
Between 12 and 15 mm of water is applied to the area up to three evenings a week, with more than 40 temperature and humidity sensors monitoring conditions in the irrigation area, and the persistence of cool air outside of the test zone.
“Jet engines work better in cooler, denser air, using less fuel during take-off and being better able to carry their optimal passenger and cargo loads.”
There is also a threshold temperature above which some smaller domestic aircraft like the Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 simply cannot take off.
“Last year in Arizona, in the United States, 50 flights were cancelled in one day due to it being too hot for the planes to take off.
“We can reduce the risk of this happening at many airports in Australia and around the world, by employing irrigation to green buffer land around the runways,” said Ingleton.
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