How America’s Hottest City Tries To Cool Off



It’s time to stop thinking of trees as a form of “beautification”. Rather, they’re a living form of infrastructure, providing services that include stormwater management, air filtration, carbon sequestration, and, more importantly for a city like Phoenix, Arizona, they cool the water. environment around them.

Trees can lower neighborhood temperatures in three ways:

  1. Their shadow prevents solar radiation from hitting paved surfaces like concrete and asphalt, which absorb energy and release it back into the air as heat.
  2. Their leaves cool the immediate area by using heat to evaporate the water trees draw from the soil during their growing processes.
  3. If you are standing under a tree, a tree protects your body directly from the sun’s rays. If you’ve ever been to a hot, dry city like Phoenix in the summer, you’ll know how important shade is in making any outdoor experience tolerable.

As Phoenix faces an increasing frequency of extreme heat waves – which can be deadly but also cause worrying spikes in energy demand – the city is turning to trees as part of its climate mitigation strategy. heat. Phoenix is ​​not devoid of trees, but they are unevenly distributed across the city. A quick glance at a satellite image of the metropolitan area reveals significant green spots to the north and east, and brown spots to the south and west, where there are many low-income neighborhoods.

For example, Phoenix recently pledged to achieve “tree equity” by 2030, as part of an agreement with American Forests, a national tree organization. I recently visited Phoenix to take a look at the current state of the city’s urban forest. In this video, we use drone footage and thermal cameras to understand how the city’s urban design contributes to extreme heat and what it can do to cool off.

You can find this video and all Vox videos on YouTube.


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