Evaluating the Cooling Impact of Vegetation in Boston, MA

Project Partner: City of Boston, Fall 2020

Project Summary: Urban greenspace mitigates extreme temperatures via evapotranspiration and shading; however, quantification of vegetation cooling benefits in cities often rely on simple remote sensing greenness indices or tree inventories. In this project, I applied an interdisciplinary framework that combines a novel heat flux model quantifying the spatially explicit supply of cooling from vegetation with a vulnerability index capturing the residential demand for cooling from vegetation as a function of temperature, demographics, and population density. I utilized the framework to evaluate the impact of the planned redevelopment of Melnea Cass Boulevard on the balance of ecosystem service supply/demand. In forecasting the changes in tree population composition over time and space with consideration of the spatial variation in demand along the corridor, I identified regions with a mismatch in supply/demand where small scale design changes to the redevelopment plan would have a large impact on the provision of ecosystem services.

Project Deliverables: Presentation/report on the supply/demand framework, highlighting findings from the Melnea Cass pilot study (link).


A map of Boston, MA, showing the geographic distribution of vegetative cooling power.
Cooling power of vegetation (latent heat flux) in Boston, MA. Bluer areas indicate stronger cooling effect of vegetation, including street trees.