From: American Chemical Society
Published May 17, 2017 04:48 PM

During heat waves, urban trees can increase ground-level ozone

Planting trees is a popular strategy to help make cities “greener,” both literally and figuratively. But scientists have found a counterintuitive effect of urban vegetation: During heat waves, it can increase air pollution levels and the formation of ozone. Their study appears in ACS’ journalEnvironmental Science & Technology.

Previous research has shown that planting trees in cities can have multiple benefits, including storing carbon, controlling storm water and cooling areas off by providing shade. This has spurred efforts in cities across the U.S. and Europe to encourage the practice. However, it’s also known that trees and other plants release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that can interact with other substances and contribute to air pollution. And when it’s hot, plants release higher levels of VOCs. Galina Churkina and colleagues wanted to investigate what effects heat waves and urban vegetation might have on air pollution.

The researchers compared computer models of air pollutant concentrations in the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area in Germany in the summer of 2006, when there was a heat wave, and the summer of 2014, which had more typical seasonal temperatures.

Continue reading at American Chemical Society

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