Taking the temperature of Moreland Playgrounds and surfaces

November 24, 2020 at 12:56 pm 6 comments

Hot seat, hot synthetic surface. CB Smith Reserve

Summer is fast approaching and already we have had days with temperatures reaching into the low 30s Celsius degree level. Surfaces in Moreland heat up much more than the ambient temperatures.

This build up of heat in surfaces such as footpaths, roads, buildings, playground equipment and synthetic turf, contributes to the urban heat island effect, which tends to be much more pronounced in highly built up urban areas such as in Moreland.

Particularly notable is that synthetic surfaces have higher spot temperatures than either asphalt or concrete surfaces when all are in full sun.

Natural vegetation both as grass and trees providing canopy shade are important for keeping urban micro-climates cool. Wetland areas, lakes and streams also add a cooling effect.

A research study conducted in Western Sydney found extreme heat in full sun exposed surfaces:

In full sun, the artificial surface materials became dangerously hot. Soft fall surface temperatures reached 71-84°C on days when air temperatures were in the low 30s. Astroturf heated up to nearly 100°C. Plastic toys in direct sun reached temperatures up to 73.7°C – that is one hot rubber duck!

CB Smith Reserve Playgrounds

Some surface temperature surveys were done around CB Smith Reserve in Fawkner on 10 November 2020.

The two playgrounds in CB Smith Reserve have no shade cloth. Outside Exercise equipment around the reserve is on a black synthetic surface in full sun.

Surface air temperature was measured at 32.2C, wind speed gusting up to 8-10 km/hr, 15% humidity.
All surface temperatures below were an average of 3 readings:

Jukes Road parkland:
Grass shade: 30.1C
Grass full sun: 45.77C
Synthetic surface full sun: 62.03C
Asphalt road full sun: 56.77C
Concrete path full sun: 52.97C
Tan bark playground full sun: 55C
Playground Slippery Dip full sun: 60.3C

Playground CB Smith behind pool:
Air temp: 32.3C, 15% humidity, 10km/hr wind speed.

Tan bark full sun: 55.23C
Synthetic surface full sun below swings: 67.1C

These two playgrounds in CB Smith Reserve have become very popular places as restrictions ease with Melbourne pandemic lockdown. But they are effectively unusable in warm to hot weather unless shade clothe is used to cool the playground equipment areas.



A Councillor Notice of Motion at the Council meeting on June 2020 highlighted the issue of shade on playgrounds with summer temperatures. A report was presented at the August 2020 Council meeting with an audit of district level playgrounds needing shade cloth. (I have added the audit as an image)

Council resolved at the August 2020 meeting:
1. Constructs a shade sail over the skate park at CB Smith Reserve in 2020/21, utilising the current $50,000 budget allocation.
2. Develops a five-year Shade Structure Program, in line with the new Play Space Upgrade Program being developed this financial year for consideration in future years budget processes.

The Council Officer report says “Site specific community consultation will take place as the program is implemented.”

So I guess we should expect this listed on the Conversations Moreland website in the near future?

Moreland Council shade cloth on playgrounds program

Children’s Playground in Bridget Shortell Reserve, Glenroy

Shade Cloth over childrens playground Bridget Shortell Reserve, Glenroy

Spot surface temperature readings were taken at the children’s playground in Bridget Shortell Reserve in Glenroy on the afternoon of 9 November at 5.25pm. Moreland Council have done a reasonable job in terms of trying to minimise urban heat and access to this playground during warm and hot conditions.

The area around the playground is natural grass with mature trees providing some canopy shade. There is a shade cloth over the playground itself which shades the playground equipment during the hottest parts of the day. The surface around the play equipment is tan bark which provides some cushioning effect for any falls.

I tested the surface temperatures around the playground:

Air Temperature: 33.7C, Wind speed: negligible , Humidity: 14%
Surface temperature Average based on 3 spot readings:

Grass in the shade: 23C
Grass in the sun: 32C
Tan bark in the shade 28.1C
Tan bark in the sun 42.2C



Clifton Park Synthetic Pitch

Clifton Park synthetic turf pitch surface temperature

A visit to Clifton Park to get some data on early afternoon temperatures of different surfaces including the synthetic pitch constructed there to provide relevant data for Hosken Reserve proposal for a synthetic pitch on the natural grass irrigated oval.

The air temperature was 32c to 33c. Wind was gusting up to 10km/hr. Humidity was around 15%.

Grass in full sun = 29.6 to 30.9C
Concrete path in full sun = 43.1 to 47.7C
Synthetic turf in tree canopy shade = 29.3 – 30.4C
Synthetic Turf in full sun = 57.1 – 60.4C

I used a minimum of 3 temperature readings to ensure I was not seeing an outlier data point.
Rubber infill was used on the synthetic pitch. I don’t know whether it is recycled tyres which may include contaminants or virgin rubber. These rubber pellets spread into the environment and into waterways. The synthetic grass leaves do break down emitting greenhouse gases as they age, and becoming micro-plastics that leach into waterways and the ocean.



Hosken Reserve Upgrade

Clearly the proposal to turn the grass oval at Hosken Reserve in North Coburg into a synthetic pitch will increase surface temperatures during summer months which will affect the local micro-climate. Moreland Council have not so far presented any study on the urban heat implications of installing synthetic grass at this location, to advise local residents. This is just one of the studies that should be done to feed in to the business case and decision making for Hosken Reserve upgrade.

11 April 2018, The Conversation, Materials that make heat worse for our kids demand a rethink by designers

Entry filed under: climate change info, Moreland Council, news. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Climate Emergency toolkit for Councils launched Time for a Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty

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