Faculty Research Fellows Hutyra, Li & Templer Co-Author Paper on Urban Tree Cover and Extreme Heat

Pardee Center Faculty Research Fellows Prof. Lucy Hutyra, Prof. Dan Li, and Prof. Pamela Templer recently co-authored a paper exploring the effects of increasing urban tree canopy cover as a nature-based solution to combat excess urban heat.

Trees provide a wide range of ecosystem services, particularly in cities where their ability to cool local air temperatures helps mitigate the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Urban trees reduce surface temperatures through two mechanisms: by providing shade to block incoming solar radiation and by transpiration (i.e., water evaporation from leaf surfaces). In the paper, published in the journal BioScience, the authors illustrate the relationship between urban tree transpiration and temperatures. In doing so, they explore potential feedbacks among urban tree cover, the built environment, and climate to better understand extreme heat events in urban areas.

Read the full paper here.

In 2019, Hutyra and Li were awarded a $650,000 National Science Foundation grant to study land-atmosphere feedbacks over urban areas experiencing heat waves, and the impacts of heat waves on natural systems and human activities in urban areas. The grant was awarded through NSF’s Prediction of and Resilience against Extreme Events (PREEVENTS) program, which awarded 14 grants totaling $19 million in 2019 to support research on natural disasters.

This research stems from the trio’s seed grant as Pardee Center Faculty Research Fellows to study the mitigating effect of vegetation on urban heat in Boston.