Adequate green canopy plays an important role in cooling rising temperatures. Differences as high as 24°C between stifling city conditions and cooler nearby rural fields have been recorded in New Delhi, India. Man-made surfaces like concrete, asphalt roads and steel, store and release heat bouncing it from one building to the next. Without tree cover to provide shade and moisture into the air, urban heat islands are created.
In Australia, researchers from Macquarie University and Western Sydney University have tested the hardiness of different plant species to withstand higher temperatures and lower rainfall. They have used the data collected to create the Which Plant Where website. This website is designed to assist users in selecting native plants and trees better adapted at dealing with increased temperatures, now and into the future.
At the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, researchers have discovered trees not only offer canopy to cool temperatures, but they are also excellent bioindicators of global climate change. During a study of two East Boulder ash trees, high-resolution accelerometers were fitted to monitor tree health and change.
Researchers worked with arborists and visual monitoring data to assess results. They found that the accelerometers enabled the recording of real time data, including the sensing of mass changes in foliage as they happened. If scaled up, accelerometers could be used more broadly to monitor the impacts of environmental change and inform green canopy creation.
After scorching summer days, cities around the world are viewing trees as their greatest ally to keep conditions liveable. Cities like Singapore and Paris, now view trees as an integral part of their future and have both announced tree planting targets in coming years. Paris aims to plant 170,000 new trees by 2026 and Singapore is targeting the planting of 1 million more trees by 2030. The NSW Government’s Greening our City Premier’s Priority aims to combat the urban heat island effect by increasing green cover across Greater Sydney by planting 1 million trees by the end of this year.
Each year Planet Ark runs Australia’s biggest tree planting and nature care event, National Tree Day, with the aim to plant 1 million trees. Register a planting in your community and help cool our environment.