Trees and Plants are offering some of the relief, especially in the urban areas with higher ambient temperatures. It is by means of providing shade and increasing evaporative cooling. Urban green spaces which include parks, gardens and urban river networks are delivering ecosystem services to cities.
Google has been actively taking part in managing these activities.
It is further helping in reducing flood risk, cooling urban micro-climates and creating recreational spaces. It has generally being accepted that trees and plants are benefiting urban environment.
Till now researchers were having every little data to work with in order to quantify the extent in which trees regulate the urban ecosystems.
Outcomes of Research conducted:
Most of the research has been conducted in the temperate zones of Europe and North America, yet little is known about tropical regions.
There is exploding urban population in megacities like Tokyo, Shanghai and Delhi to well over 20 million people. Thus it becomes quite important to understand how green spaces are contributing to urban sustainability.
Researchers from the Future Cities Laboratory at the Singapore-ETH Centre, a research outpost of ETH Zurich has developed a method for mapping and quantifying how street trees regulate ecosystem services.
By use of nearly 100,000 images which were extracted from Google Street View, they analysed hemispherical photographs by use of an algorithm.
It analysed for quantifying the proportion of green canopy coverage at 50 meter intervals across more than 80 percent of the Singapore’s road network.
Google Street View technology has allowed researchers for tapping into the standard dataset of panoramic photographs and streetscapes which use the global positioning system (GPS) for mapping images to specific locations.
Higher spatial resolution of images further allowed for estimating the amount of solar radiation which is reaching the Earth’s surface.
Peter Edwards, Principal Investigator at the Future Cities Laboratory and Director of the Singapore – ETH Centre says, “In addition to cooling urban microclimates, these trees, which are integrated within dense urban street networks, also provide other benefits, such as reducing the risk of flash flooding and cleaning the air.”
Conclusion of Research:
Researchers over the project has concluded that increasing the cover of the street tree canopy could further reduce the ground surface and air temperature over Singapore streets.
In addition to that, relative quantity of the canopy may also serve as an indicator of evaporative cooling from leaves and rainfall interception.
Dan Richards who is a post doctoral researcher at the Future Cities Laboratory and project’s co-ordinator says, “The study shows that trees are extremely important in providing shade in Singapore, and this shade could improve thermal comfort for people. Providing trees to help cool the environment is particularly important in tropical cities like Singapore, which suffers heavily from the urban heat island effect.”
This newer and inexpensive method of rapidly estimating the amount of shade which is provided by street trees could further help urban planners for identifying areas of the city which are having low shade and prioritize the planning of newer trees.
Since the Google Street View is covering many of the world’s cities, method could readily be applied for quantifying the proportion of canopy coverage and solar radiation in other tropical cities.
If these images were collected during the growing season, method then may also be adopted for accessing cities in temperate zones.
These zones are experiencing a seasonal loss of tree leaves. It further enables the possibility of creating strategically greener and more sustainable urban environments.