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Low-tech cool: Shade trees for subtropical streets
Date:4/21/2010

TAIPEI, TAIWANShade trees are the superstars of urban landscapes. In addition to their intrinsic aesthetic qualities, these low-tech workhorses reduce air and noise pollution, provide habitat for wildlife, increase property values, and offer cool respite for harried urbanites. Strategically planted shade trees decrease energy usage in urban buildings, absorb carbon dioxide, and supply fresh oxygen. It's no coincidence that researchers around the world are working to find the best shade trees for all types of urban environments.

While studies have reported on the "cooling effect" of shade trees in temperate urban areas, similar studies for tropical or subtropical areas are limited. Climate conditions and popular tree species in the tropics or subtropics are quite different from those in more temperate regions. Now, a research team from the Department of Horticulture at National Taiwan University has published a comprehensive study in HortScience that offers recommendations for landscape designers and urban planners in subtropical regions. Bau-Show Lin and Yann-Jou Lin evaluated the differences in cooling effect of trees and bamboo grown in Taipei, Taiwan.

The effect of shade trees on the air and surface-soil temperature reduction under the canopy was studied in a park in Taipei City, Taiwan. Ten species of trees and two species of bamboo, which had tightly clustered tall stems and spreading branches resembling trees, were chosen for the study. Microclimate conditions under the tree canopies and an unshaded open space were measured repeatedly at midday without precipitation. The researchers analyzed four characteristics of each plant related to cooling effect, determining that foliage density had the greatest contribution to cooling, followed by leaf thickness, leaf texture, and leaf color lightness. Regression analysis also revealed that solar radiation, wind velocity, and vapor pressure at the site had significant effects on temperatu
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert

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