Most people don’t stop to consider the trees that they pass each day as they go about their business in cities around the world, but these urban trees provide important functions for our homes and neighborhoods, including cooling ambient temperatures, purifying and absorbing rainwater, and absorbing carbon dioxide.
The cooling properties of urban trees are one of the most important benefits they provide, especially in areas where dark pavement can absorb and hold onto heat. According to an article published by the EPA, surfaces shaded by trees can be 20-45 degrees F cooler than surfaces in direct sunlight. With climate change causing heat extremes that are unfamiliar to many parts of the world, the heat reductions that trees provide are extremely important for people’s health and safety.
In areas with a high ratio of concrete to greenery, temperatures can get especially hot. This is called the “heat island” effect, and scientists have noticed that heat islands tend to be concentrated in disadvantaged neighborhoods, which means that poor and minority communities must grapple with extreme heat. Heat can especially impact those with health conditions, the elderly, and infants. To learn more about the equity implications of heat islands, click here.
We need trees for all!