From: Marianne Lucien via ETH Zurich
Published March 1, 2017 11:29 AM

Using Google to map our ecosystem

Researchers in the Singapore-ETH Centre’s Future Cities Laboratory developed a method to quantify ecosystem services of street trees. Using nearly 100,000 images from Google Street View, the study helps further understanding on how green spaces contribute to urban sustainability.

Do you remember the last time you escaped the hot summer sun to enjoy a cool reprieve in the shade beneath a broad-leafed tree? While sizzling summer days may seem far away right now in the northern hemisphere, tropical cities like Singapore deal with solar radiation on a daily basis.

Street trees – keeping it cool

Trees and plants offer some relief, especially in urban areas with higher ambient temperatures, by providing shade and increasing evaporative cooling. Urban green spaces such as parks, gardens, and urban river networks deliver ecosystem services to cities reducing flood risk, cooling urban micro-climates, and creating recreational spaces. While it is generally accepted that trees and plants benefit urban environments, until now researchers have had very little data to work with in order to quantify the extent that street trees regulate urban ecosystems. Most of the research has been conducted in the temperate zones of Europe and North America, but little is known about how trees contribute to urban ecosystems in tropical regions. With urban populations exploding in megacities like Tokyo, Shanghai, and Delhi to well over 20 million people - it is important to understand how green spaces contribute to urban sustainability.

Read more at ETH Zurich

Credits: Fgrammen via Wikimedia Commons

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