Identifying the impacts of urban green space on thermal pollution in the Chicago River

Major Goals and Objectives

This project will identify the drivers of thermal pollution within the Chicago River and examine the role of green space at the buffer and catchment scale in reducing water temperature. Specifically, this will include the calculation of daily thermal loads from potential sources of thermal pollution to identify the drivers of water temperature in the Chicago River. Thermal loads will be calculated for wastewater discharges, inflow from Lake Michigan, stormwater runoff, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and cooling water discharges using data provided by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) and modeling outputs from the Minnesota Urban Heat Export Tool (MINUHET). In addition, statistical analysis will be completed to determine if there is a significant correlation between landscape metrics within the buffer zone or the catchment area and the thermal loads for surface runoff. Landscape metrics will include percent green space, number of patches and patch density at the buffer and catchment scales and will be determined using FRAGSTATS to analyze land cover data.

Research Information

Principal Investigator:
Colleen O'Brien
Initiation Date:
Northwestern University