Cities around the world are facing a scarcity of space for outdoor sports activities. In order to address this issue, many parks and public sports courts have turned to artificial turf as a way to accommodate heavy use. While artificial turf has its benefits, such as durability and low maintenance, there are also significant downsides that need to be considered. Recently, scientists in the Netherlands have come up with an innovative solution to make artificial turf fields more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Dr. Marjolein van Huijgevoort and her team at the KWR Water Research Institute have developed a subsurface water storage and capillary irrigation system that can be integrated under artificial turf sports fields. This system is designed to reduce surface temperatures on artificial turf fields, which can reach dangerous levels on hot sunny days. By storing rainwater underneath the turf and allowing it to evaporate through natural processes, the system creates a cooling effect that can help prevent heat-related injuries and illnesses.

The cooling turf system offers a number of advantages over conventional artificial turf. Not only does it keep the surface temperature significantly lower, but it also reduces the urban heat island effect by lowering air temperatures above the field. Additionally, the system can store rainwater and reduce stormwater drainage, which helps mitigate urban flooding. The cooling turf provides a healthy environment for sports activities while also being durable and low maintenance.

While the cooling turf system has shown promising results in initial experiments, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. The installation costs for the system can be up to twice as expensive as conventional artificial turf, which may deter some cities from investing in this technology. A full-scale cost-benefit analysis is needed to determine the long-term value of the investment. Further research is also necessary to understand how the cooling turf could impact the surrounding areas and cities as a whole, as well as to optimize the system for different climates and conditions.

In a time where urban populations are growing and outdoor space is becoming increasingly limited, innovations like the cooling turf system offer a sustainable solution for providing sports facilities in cities. By addressing the drawbacks of conventional artificial turf and creating a more environmentally friendly alternative, researchers like Dr. van Huijgevoort are paving the way for a healthier and more sustainable future for urban sports enthusiasts. As we continue to learn more about the benefits and potential of this technology, it is clear that initiatives like the cooling turf system have the potential to make a significant impact on the way we think about outdoor sports and recreation in cities.


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