Journal of Undergraduate Research


urban tree LAI, urban heat, cooling effects of trees


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




It is well known that urban areas are warmer than the surrounding rural areas, with various negative (though sometimes not immediately perceived) consequences for urban residents and the environment. As the world’s human population becomes increasingly urban, methods of mitigating urban heat become more imperative to explore. Though not nearly as abundant as in many natural environments, trees are fairly common in urban areas and can be utilized to offset urban heat. Studying the cooling effects of trees on the surrounding areas can further our understanding of the relationship between trees and temperature. Leaf Area Index (LAI) is a specific biophysical metric of trees that may mitigate urban heat. Our research focused on measuring urban tree LAI and comparing it to thermal characteristics of the given tree to determine the cooling effects of trees on permeable urban surfaces (such as grass or loose dirt).