International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

The Impact of Tree Cover Loss on Land Surface Temperature: A Case Study of Central Massachusetts Using Landsat Thematic Mapper Thermal Data

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Land surface temperature (LST) variability results from diversity in urban surface materials over space and time such that locations with impervious urban cover experience higher temperature and larger temperature variation compared to non-impervious cover. There is growing awareness that warmer temperatures in urban locations negatively impact city residents by increasing heat related death and energy usage during heat waves. However, little previous work investigates the linkages between urban tree cover loss events related to invasive species eradication and urban heat trends. This paper examines the variation in LST using Landsat-5 Thematic Mapper (TM) thermal imagery in Worcester County, Massachusetts where over 30,000 trees were removed since 2008 to eradicate the invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), most of which existed in urban residential areas. Throughout the study area a 10% loss in tree canopy cover caused a0.7°C increase in LST whereas a 10% increase in sub-canopy impervious surface area exposed due to tree loss caused 1.66°C increase in LST. The Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods in northern Worcester experienced a combined 48% tree cover loss from 2008 to 2010 due to ALB eradication and an average relative LST increase of 2.4°C (range 0.6-4.1°C). Given that areas with an increase in exposed impervious surface produce greater temperature increases than areas of tree loss, future tree replanting efforts may focus on locations that reduce exposed impervious surfaces. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication Title

Applied Geography

Publication Date

12-1-2013

Volume

45

First Page

49

Last Page

57

ISSN

0143-6228

DOI

10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.07.004

Keywords

Asian Longhorned Beetle, land surface temperature, Massachusetts, urban heat island, urban tree cover

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