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Transpiration of urban trees and its cooling effect in a high latitude city

Journal article
Authors Janina Konarska
Johan Uddling
Björn Holmer
Martina Lutz
Fredrik Lindberg
Håkan Pleijel
Sofia Thorsson
Published in International journal of biometeorology
Volume 60
Issue 1
Pages 159-172
ISSN 0020-7128
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 159-172
Language en
Subject categories Environmental Sciences, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


An important ecosystem service provided by urban trees is the cooling effect caused by their transpiration. The aim of this study was to quantify the magnitude of daytime and night-time transpiration of common urban tree species in a high latitude city (Gothenburg, Sweden), to analyse the influence of weather conditions and surface permeability on the tree transpiration, and to find out whether tree transpiration contributed to daytime or nocturnal cooling. Stomatal conductance and leaf transpiration at day and night were measured on mature street and park trees of seven common tree species in Gothenburg: Tilia europaea, Quercus robur, Betula pendula, Acer platanoides, Aesculus hippocastanum, Fagus sylvatica and Prunus serrulata. Transpiration increased with vapour pressure deficit and photosynthetically active radiation. Midday rates of sunlit leaves ranged from less than 1 mmol m−2 s−1 (B. pendula) to over 3 mmol m−2 s−1 (Q. robur). Daytime stomatal conductance was positively related to the fraction of permeable surfaces within the vertically projected crown area. A simple estimate of available rainwater, comprising of precipitation sum and fractional surface permeability within the crown area, was found to explain 68 % of variation in midday stomatal conductance. Night-time transpiration was observed in all studied species and amounted to 7 and 20 % of midday transpiration of sunlit and shaded leaves, respectively. With an estimated night-time latent heat flux of 24 W m−2, tree transpiration significantly increased the cooling rate around and shortly after sunset, but not later in the night. Despite a strong midday latent heat flux of 206 W m−2, a cooling effect of tree transpiration was not observed during the day.

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