A panel data analysis of a spatial measurement of green infrastructure and its potential effectiveness on peak streamflow

  • 111 Accesses


Research on the possible benefits of green infrastructure as a hazard mitigation strategy has been limited by the lack of effective tools for the identification and measurement of the specific dimensions of green infrastructure particularly within highly developed urban environments. Consequently, there has been little empirical research conducted on the potential benefits of green infrastructure for reducing streamflow, an indicator of runoff and potential flooding mitigation. This study seeks to further research green infrastructure as a potential tool for hazard mitigation by examining its consequences for streamflow over a 2-year period in 2004 and 2010 for two key urban areas subject to flooding in Texas, USA (Austin and Houston Metropolitan areas) in panel models to assess the effectiveness of green infrastructure for reducing runoff as assessed by using streamflow gage data predicting annual peak flow. The statistical models suggested that green infrastructure contributes to reduce annual peak flow in urbanized watersheds. The effect in the fixed effects model suggests that with every percent increase in green infrastructure within the 100-year floodplain, peak annual flow decreased by 7.7% (R2 = 0.6985). The effects of green infrastructure outside the floodplain appeared to be significant, and its magnitude in the fixed effects model was − 7.1% (R2 = 0.6447). These differences suggest slightly greater consequences for preserving green infrastructure within floodplains when it comes to peak annual flows. Moreover, the analyses explained that green infrastructure in Austin appears to be more effective on peak annual flow when, compared to Houston, suggesting that green infrastructure has elevated consequences in areas with greater topographical diversity. The effectiveness of green infrastructure in critical places will help make a guideline for the balanced urban development with implementation of green infrastructure.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Ahern, J. (2007). Green infrastructure for cities: The spatial dimension. In V. Novotny & P. Brown (Eds.), Cities of the future: Towards integrated sustainable water and landscape management (pp. 267–283). London: IWA Publishing.

  2. Allen, W. (2012). Environmental reviews and case studies: Advancing green infrastructure at all scales: From landscape to site. Environmental Practice,14(1), 17–25.

  3. Armson, D., Stringer, P., & Ennons, A. (2012). The effect of tree shade and grass on surface and globe temperatures in an urban area. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening,11(3), 245–255.

  4. Armson, D., Stringer, P., & Ennos, A. (2013). The effect of street trees and amenity grass on urban surface water runoff in Manchester, UK. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening,12(3), 282–286.

  5. Babbie, E. (2011). The basics of social research (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

  6. Baloch, M. A., Ames, D. P., & Tanik, A. (2015). Hydrologic impacts of climate and land-use change on Namnam Stream in Koycegiz Watershed, Turkey. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology,12, 1481–1494.

  7. Baptiste, A. K., Foley, C., & Smardon, R. (2015). Understanding urban neighborhood differences in willingness to implement green infrastructure measures: A case study of Syracuse, NY. Landscape and Urban Planning,136, 1–12.

  8. Beatley, T. (2009). Planning for coastal resilience: Best practices for calamitous times. Washington: Island Press.

  9. Bedient, P., Holder, A., & Vieux, B. (2002). A radar-based flood alert system (FAS) designed for Houston, Texas. In Proceedings from the ninth international conference on urban drainage, Portland, OR.

  10. Benedict, M. A., & McMahon, E. T. (2002). Green infrastructure: Smart conservation for the 21st century. Renewable Resources Journal,20(3), 12.

  11. Bengston, D., Fletcher, J., & Nelson, K. (2004). Public policies for managing urban growth and protecting open space: Policy instruments and lessons learned in the United States. Landscape and Urban Planning,69(2–3), 271–286.

  12. Brody, S., Blessing, R., Sebastian, A., & Bedient, P. (2014). Examining the impact of land use/land cover characteristics on flood losses. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management,57(8), 1252–1265.

  13. Brody, S., Gunn, J., Peacock, W., & Highfield, W. (2011a). Examining the influence of development patterns on flood damages along the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Plannin Educaiton and Research,31(4), 438–448.

  14. Brody, S., & Highfield, W. (2013). Open space protection and flood mitigation: A national study. Land Use Policy,32, 89–95.

  15. Brody, S., Highfield, W., Blessing, R., Makino, T., & Shepard, C. (2017). Evaluating the effects of open space configurations in reducing flood damage along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Landscape and Urban Planning,167, 225–231.

  16. Brody, S., Highfield, W., & Kang, J. (2011b). Rising waters: The causes and consequences of flooding in the United States. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.

  17. Brody, S., Kim, H., & Gunn, J. (2013). Examining the impacts of development patterns on flooding on the Gulf of Mexico Coast. Urban Studies,50(4), 789–806.

  18. Brody, S. D., Peacock, W. G., & Gunn, J. (2012). Ecological indicators of flood risk along the Gulf of Mexico. Ecological Indicators,18, 493–500.

  19. Brody, S. D., Zahran, S., Highfield, W. E., Grover, H., & Vedlitz, A. (2008). Identifying the impact of the built environment on flood damage in Texas. Disasters,32(1), 1–18.

  20. Chen, J., Theller, L., Gitau, M., Engel, B., & Harbor, J. (2017). Urbanization impact on surface runoff of the contiguous United States. Journal of Environmental Management,187, 470–481.

  21. Cheng, C. (2016). Spatial climate justice and green infrastructure assessment: A case for the Huron River watershed, Michigan, USA. GI Forum,1, 179–190.

  22. Cheng, C., Yang, Y. C., Ryan, R., Yu, Q., & Brabec, E. (2017). Assessing climate change-induced flooding mitigation for adaptation in Boston’s Charles River watershed, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning,167, 25–36.

  23. Connors, J. P., Galletti, C. S., & Chow, W. T. L. (2013). Landscape configuration and urban heat island effects: Assessing the relationship between landscape characteristics and land surface temperature in Phoenix, Arizona. Landscape Ecology,28(2), 271–283.

  24. Dietz, M. (2007). Low impact development practices: A review of current research and recommentations for future directions. Water, Air, and Soil pollution,186, 351–363.

  25. Dietz, M., & Cluasen, J. (2008). Stormwater runoff and export changes with development in a traditional and low impact subdivision. Journal of Environmental Management,87(4), 560–566.

  26. Gill, S., Handley, J., Ennos, A., & Pauleit, S. (2007). Adapting cities for climate change: The role of the green infrastructure. Built Environment,33(1), 115–133.

  27. Hartel, D. (2003). Tree canopy ordinances. Retrieved from Accessed 11 March 2018.

  28. Hepcan, C. C. (2013). Quantifying landscape pattern and connectivity in a Mediterranean coastal settlement: The case of the Urla district, Turkey. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment,185(1), 143–155.

  29. Hill, E., Dorfman, J., & Gramer, E. (2010). Evaluating the impact of government land use policies on tree canopy coverage. Land Use Policy,27(2), 407–414.

  30. Jayasooriya, V., Ng, A., Muthukumaran, S., & Perera, B. (2017). Green infrastructure practices for improvement of urban air quality. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening,21, 34–47.

  31. Jennings, D. B., & Jarnagin, S. T. (2002). Changes in anthropogenic impervious surfaces, precipitation and daily streamflow discharge: A historical perspective in a mid-atlantic subwatershed. Landscape Ecology,17(5), 471–489.

  32. Kim, H. W., Kim, J., Li, W., Yang, P., & Cao, Y. (2017). Exploring the impact of green space health on runoff reduction using NDVI. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening,28, 81–87.

  33. Lee, H. K. (2018). The potential implementation of green infrastructure assessment using high-resolution National Agriculture Imagery Program data for sustainable hazard mitigation. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology,25(4), 371–381.

  34. Leitão, A. B., Miller, J., Ahern, J., & McGarigal, K. (2006). Measuring landscapes: A planner’s handbook. Washington: Island press.

  35. Leopold, L. B. (1968). Hydrology for urban land planning: A guidebook on the hydrologic effects of urban land use, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 554. Retrieved from Accessed 11 March 2017.

  36. Looper, J., & Vieus, B. (2012). An assessment of distributed flash flood forecasting accuracy using radar and rain gauge input for a physics, based distributed hydrologic model. Journal of Hydrology,412, 114–132.

  37. McGarigal, K. & Marks, B. (1994). FRAGSTATS: Spatial pattern analysis program for quantifying landscape structure. Retrieved from Accessed 11 March 2018.

  38. Meerow, S., & Newell, J. (2017). Spatial planning for multifunctional green infrastructure: Growing resilience in Detroit. Landscape and Urban Planning,159, 62–75.

  39. Muñoz, L., Olivera, F., Giglio, M., & Berke, P. (2018). The impact of urbanization on the streamflows and the 100-year floodplain extent of the Sims Bayou in Houston, Texas. International Journal of River Basin Management,16(1), 61–69.

  40. Olivera, F., & DeFee, B. B. (2007). Urbanization and its effect on runoff in the Whiteoak Bayou Watershed, Texas. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association,43(1), 170–182.

  41. Park, S., Hepcan, C., Hepcan, S., & Cook, E. (2014). Influence of urban form on landscape pattern and connectivity in metropolitan regions: A comparative case study of Phoenix, AZ, USA, and Izmir, Turkey. Environmental Monitoring and Aseessment,186(10), 6301–6318.

  42. Pettorelli, N., Vik, J. O., Mysterud, A., Gailard, J., Tucker, C., & Stenseth, N. (2005). Using the satellite-derived NDVI to assess ecological responses to environmental change. Trends in Ecology & Evolution,20(9), 503–510.

  43. Prasad, S. (2016). Assessing the need for evacuation assistance in the 100 year floodplain of South Florida. Applied Geography,67, 67–76.

  44. Ritters, K., Wickham, J., & Wade, T. (2009). An indicator of forest dynamics using a shifting landscape mosaic. Ecological Indicators,9(1), 107–117.

  45. Saleh, I., Kavian, A., Habibnezhad Roushan, M., & Jafarian, Z. (2017). The efficiency of vegetative buffer strips in runoff quality and quantity control. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.

  46. Veenhuis, J., & Gannett, D. (1986). The effects of urbanization on floods in the Austin metropolitan area. Texas: US Department of the Interior, Geological Survey.

  47. Yang, B., & Li, S. (2013). Green infrastructure design for stormwater runoff and water quality: Empirical evidence from large watershed-scale community developments. Water,5, 2038–2057.

  48. Young, R. F. (2011). Planting the living city: Best practices in planning green infrastructure—Results from major US cities. Journal of the American Planning Association,77(4), 368–381.

  49. Zahran, S., Brody, S., Peacock, W., Vedlitz, A., & Grover, H. (2008). Social vulnerability and the natural and built environment: A model of flood casualities in Texas. Disaster,32(4), 537–560.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Hye Kyung Lee.


Appendix A

See Table 5.

Table 5 Random effect panel model with a dummy variable predicting peak annual flow Phase 1

Appendix B

See Table 6.

Table 6 Random effect panel model with a dummy variable predicting peak annual flow Phase 2

Appendix C

See Table 7.

Table 7 Random effect panel model with a dummy variable predicting peak annual flow Phase 3

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lee, H.K. A panel data analysis of a spatial measurement of green infrastructure and its potential effectiveness on peak streamflow. Environ Dev Sustain 22, 469–500 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10668-018-0210-3

Download citation


  • Green infrastructure
  • Streamflow
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Runoff