Mitigating effects of vertical and horizontal vegetation structure on urban heat islands in five USA cities

Authors: Shawn Landry*, University of South Florida, Qiuyan Yu, University of South Florida, Ruiliang Pu, University of South Florida, Michael Acheampong, University of South Florida, Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne, University of Vermont
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: urban forest, trees, heat island, vegetation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Bourbon Room, Astor, Mezzanine
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urbanization has been associated with adverse impacts on local ecosystems and biophysical environments. One consequence of large-scale changes in the landscape within human settlements is the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Planting trees and vegetation in urban areas is one of the most widely applied strategies to mitigate UHI effects. Leveraging work in a single city (Tampa, FL) that showed a cooling effect of the vertical structure of vegetation, the objective of this study is to investigate the cooling effects of vegetation in multiple cities in different climatic zones (Tampa, FL, San Diego, CA, New York City, NY, Seattle, WA and Chicago, IL). A methodological framework was developed to investigate: 1) the correlations of land surface temperature (LST) with vegetation horizontal and vertical structure, and 2) the impacts of variances in vegetation structure on LST. LST was derived from Landsat images using radiative transfer equation. Vegetation horizontal structure (fraction) was obtained from high-resolution land use land cover data, while vertical structure (mean vegetation height) was extracted from normalized digital surface models obtained from LiDAR. Statistical and spatial analysis was used to examine the relationships between LST and the vertical and horizontal structure of vegetation. We evaluate the results from the five cities and investigate how the cooling effects of urban vegetation are related to differences in climatic conditions. It is expected that this research will provide insights on understanding the cooling effects of urban vegetation on LST and lead to practical mitigation strategies to address UHI using urban forest management.

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