Dan Li

Faculty Research Fellow
Assistant Professor, Earth & Environment

Mitigation of Boston Heat Island Effect with Urban Canopy

The frequency and duration of extreme heat waves are projected to continue to increase in urban areas throughout the world, leading to higher risks of heat related deaths. Increasing urban canopy is a key strategy for mitigating excess urban heat by creating a cooling microclimate via shading and evapotranspiration (transpiration and evaporation). However, our ability to predict the mitigation effect of urban vegetation is limited by existing approaches that assume urban trees behave like their rural counterparts. Transpiration rates are known to vary by tree species, climatic conditions, and nutrient availability – factors known to vary between urban and rural environments. This project will develop new estimates of urban transpiration by: 1) empirically quantifying rates in both urban and nearby rural trees; 2) integrating field estimates of transpiration into the advancement of urban heat island models; and 3) applying the newly improved model to identify and test the efficiency of urban canopy mitigation approaches.


PhD, Princeton University


Dan Li is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth & Environment at Boston University. He received his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2013 from Princeton University. Before joining Boston University in 2016, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Program of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Princeton University and a visiting scientist at NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Professor Li’s current research interests center on urban climate, including urban heat islands and extreme heat waves in urban environments. He uses weather and climate models to investigate how urbanization and climate change affect the urban water and energy cycles. His research also addresses fundamental problems in the area of turbulent flows and environment fluid mechanics. He was selected as a junior faculty fellow of the Hariri Institute for Computing in 2016.