Poster Title

A dendrochronological analysis of urban trees: Growth rates of oak trees in response to urban heat island effects in Louisville, KY

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Applied Geography

Institution

University of Louisville

KY House District #

59

KY Senate District #

26

Department

Department of Geography and Geosciences

Abstract

Increased temperatures in urban areas, or the urban heat island (UHI), is a phenomenon that nearly all major cities are facing. The UHI creates problems related to water availability, heat-related illness, energy usage and air pollution. Urban trees are known to alleviate these effects and provide numerous benefits to their surrounding environment, but the impact of urban heat on trees is not well documented. For this study, I will use methods in tree-ring science, or dendrochronology to compare growth and climate response in white oak trees across urban, peri-urban and non-urban sites in the city of Louisville, Kentucky. I hypothesize that white oak species in the urban environment of Louisville will grow faster and larger due to warmer temperatures within the urban heat island. To test this hypothesis, I will examine tree growth rates and changes over time and then evaluate relationships between tree-ring widths and monthly average temperatures over the last century. This work will increase knowledge on the impact of the UHI, and more broadly anthropogenic climate change, on urban trees and will provide data that may be useful for city planning and park development as the need for sustainable cities increases. Furthermore, with global temperatures expected to increase in the coming decades, urban trees may offer insight into how forests will respond to climate change.

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A dendrochronological analysis of urban trees: Growth rates of oak trees in response to urban heat island effects in Louisville, KY

Increased temperatures in urban areas, or the urban heat island (UHI), is a phenomenon that nearly all major cities are facing. The UHI creates problems related to water availability, heat-related illness, energy usage and air pollution. Urban trees are known to alleviate these effects and provide numerous benefits to their surrounding environment, but the impact of urban heat on trees is not well documented. For this study, I will use methods in tree-ring science, or dendrochronology to compare growth and climate response in white oak trees across urban, peri-urban and non-urban sites in the city of Louisville, Kentucky. I hypothesize that white oak species in the urban environment of Louisville will grow faster and larger due to warmer temperatures within the urban heat island. To test this hypothesis, I will examine tree growth rates and changes over time and then evaluate relationships between tree-ring widths and monthly average temperatures over the last century. This work will increase knowledge on the impact of the UHI, and more broadly anthropogenic climate change, on urban trees and will provide data that may be useful for city planning and park development as the need for sustainable cities increases. Furthermore, with global temperatures expected to increase in the coming decades, urban trees may offer insight into how forests will respond to climate change.