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July 1, 2022

Urban Landscape Heterogeneity Influences the Relationship Between Tree Canopy and Land Surface Temperature

Jung, Meen Chel; Dyson, Karen; Alberti, Marina. (2021). Urban Landscape Heterogeneity Influences the Relationship Between Tree Canopy and Land Surface Temperature. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 57.

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Urban trees play a key role in alleviating elevated summertime land surface temperatures in cities. However, urban landscape influences the capacity of urban trees to mitigate higher temperatures. We propose that both developed land characteristics and tree cover should be considered to accurately estimate the mitigation effects of canopy cover. We subclassified original land cover based on the canopy cover ratio to capture the within-land cover heterogeneity. We selected two coastal cities with different summertime climatic conditions: Seattle, Washington, USA, and Baltimore, Maryland, USA. We used Landsat-based grid cells (30 m x 30 m) as our spatial analytical unit, with corresponding land surface temperature, canopy area, canopy compactness, population size, and National Land Cover Database (NLCD)-based land cover group. We first used grouped boxplots, Kruskal-Wallis H tests, and post-hoc multiple comparison tests to detect the distribution of land surface temperatures by the land cover group. We then introduced statistical models to test the group effects on the relationship between land surface temperatures and canopy cover variables. We found: (1) land surface temperature increases with level of development, (2) land surface temperature decreases with canopy cover level, (3) the magnitude of the mitigation effects from canopy area differs based on development level and current canopy cover, (4) the differing efficacies of canopy area in decreasing land surface temperature follows a nonlinear threshold relationship, and (5) compactness of canopy cover was not significant in reducing the land surface temperature. These findings suggest the importance of considering heterogeneous canopy cover within developed land cover classes in urban heat island research. Tree planting strategies need to consider the nonlinear relationships between tree canopy cover and land surface temperature alongside environmental equity concerns.


Extreme Heat Events; Climate-change; Cover Data; Island; Pattern; Cities; Vegetation; Mortality; Phoenix; Impact; Canopy Cover; Environmental Equity; Land Cover; Land Surface Temperature; Mitigation Effect; Area; Canopy; Cells; Climatic Factors; Databases; Heat Island; Landscapes; Multiple Comparison Test; Planting; Population Size; Research; Statistical Models; Summer; Surface Temperature; Testing; Trees; Urban Forestry; Maryland