Cooling Cities: Harnessing Natural Areas to Combat Urban Heat
During summer 2022, the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) partnered with 12 cities from the Forests in Cities network to conduct a study focused on quantifying differences in air and surface temperature between types of urban greenspace, with a focus on natural areas. As a result of this study, we found that natural areas are the coolest types of greenspaces in cities. Natural areas were significantly cooler than non-natural and landscaped areas, and forested natural areas have lower air temperature than areas of landscaped trees by several degrees. In some cities on a hot summer day – it was over 10 °F cooler in a forested natural area compared to under lanscaped trees just a few hundred feet away in a street scape. We also found that forests that were higher quality tended to be cooler than those that were more degraded during the warmest point of the day and had lower high temperature extremes.
In a nutshell, this resource offers:
- The final results of the Forests in Cities joint study on cooling in forested natural areas.
- A remote sensing study of New York City's surface temperature based on land cover type.
- Evidence that forested natural areas are cooler than other types of green space and healthy forests are cooler than degraded forests.
How to use this resource:
- As a method for conducting a temperature study.
- As an example of how cities can work together to conduct research.
- As a method for remote sensing to evaluate urban heat based on land cover type.
Author: Crystal A. Crown, Clara C. Pregitzer, Jeffrey A. Clark, and Sophie Plitt
Date published: 7/24/2023
Point of contact: Crystal Crown, firstname.lastname@example.org
Citation: Crown, Crystal A., Clara C. Pregitzer, Jeffrey A. Clark, and Sophie Plitt. 2023. Cooling Cities: Harnessing Natural Areas to Combat Urban Heat. Natural Areas Conservancy, NY
Resource is available online here.