Observational and numerical evaluation of the pedestrian-level microclimatic effect of street trees in a highly-compact city

Ricard Segura, Scott Krayenhoff, Alberto Martilli, Alba Badia, Carme Estruch, Sergi Ventura, Gara Villalba

Research output: Other contribution


The application of nature-based solutions in urban areas to mitigate the harmful effects of urban overheating and to make cities more resilient to heat waves has gained the attention of city planners and researchers in the last decades. Street trees are an important driver of street microclimate through shadowing and transpiration cooling, which are key components in the improvements of thermal comfort. While several observational campaigns have been carried out in low and medium-density residential areas, little research has been focused in highly-compact city centres, where the impact of built elements on the local climate is expected to be stronger. In this context, Urban canopy models (UCM) with integrated trees are useful tools because they represent the impact of street trees on neighbourhood-scale climate, resolving the interactions between buildings, trees and the atmosphere. These models enable the assessment of outdoor human thermal exposure for diverse urban morphologies and allow the evaluation of greening scenarios.

In this study, we present the results of a micrometeorological measurement campaign inside the city of Barcelona (Spain) for two cloud-free summer days. Vehicle transects were completed along two parallel streets with different tree densities but identical street geometry, recording upward and downward radiation fluxes, air temperature and humidity. Assessment of urban tree impacts on microclimate is supplemented by meteorological simulations using the multi-layer UCM Building Effect Parameterization with Trees (BEP-Tree), which considers the vertical variation of the combined impacts of vegetation and building on urban canopy layer climate. Comparing observed pedestrian level air temperatures between the two canyons, we can see that the impact of tree densities varies with the regional weather, with air temperatures up to 2.7 oC higher in the street with low tree density compared to the one with denser trees for a day with the wind direction perpendicular to the direction of the streets. The BEP-Tree simulations demonstrate good agreement with the observations in terms of temperature and radiation, and they are able to capture the different diurnal evolution of temperature and radiation between the two streets.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2022

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