Land surface temperatures heavily influenced by urban trees

urban trees
© Goncharovaia

A recent study has shown the influential way urban trees continue to affect the surface temperature of European cities.

According to the study, urban trees “exhibit lower temperatures than urban fabric across most European cities in summer and during hot extremes.”

Urban fabric describes the physical characteristics of urban areas such as buildings and roads. The study has shown that green spaces without trees have a negligible effect on surface temperature – strengthening the case for tree planting in urban cities to combat global warming.

The data collected from 293 different European cities has shown that an increase in urban trees can have a cooling effect of up to 12°C in the summer.

“An increase in urban trees can have a cooling effect of up to 12°C in the summer”

Analysing the cities using satellite coverage, author Jonas Schwaab and his colleges explored land surface temperature of areas covered by trees and treeless urban green spaces, such as parks and urban fabric like roads and buildings. The team discovered that overall, tree-covered areas in cities had a lower surface temp compared with surrounding areas. Temperature differences such as 8°C and 12°C in Central Europe and 0°C and 4°C in Southern Europe were found through the data collected.

With climate change being at the forefront of global and international politics – extreme heat in European cities needs to be understood and controlled.

These findings have proven the positive impact that having increased amounts of trees in cities can have on surface temperature. Schwaab has pointed out however that as shown, the effects of these finding varies across different regions and strategies to control surface temperature need to be tailored to each location to have the most effective results.

The cooling effect of trees in urban areas comes largely from shading and transpiration – the process of water within the tree being released as water vapour – and with the effects of global warming hovering on the edge of irreversible, can European governments afford to ignore studies like this.


Read the whole study here


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