Share icon
Quantifying Changes in Urban Tree Canopy Cover and Land Surface Temperature to Understand Their Impacts on Neighborhoods throughout Richmond, California

With the aim of improving air quality and mitigating increases in land surface temperature (LST), the city of Richmond, California, and partnering organizations have planted 35,000 trees over the past decade. Groundwork Richmond (GR) a local partner, has approximately 22,000 tree planting opportunities to further increase the urban tree canopy (UTC). This project utilized a multi-resolution approach by leveraging Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM), Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), and Planet RapidEye satellite imagery to quantify the impact of Groundwork Richmond's tree planting campaigns. Historical analysis of Richmond between 1985 and 2015 revealed that a 6% increase in impervious surface area has been accompanied by an average change in LST of 6 degrees Fahrenheit between 2015 and the 30-year mean. Current analysis quantified UTC cover for 2015 and 2017. Combining these findings with socioeconomic and demographic data, disadvantaged, tree deficient neighborhoods that are susceptible to high land surface temperatures were identified. The results of this project will help Groundwork Richmond determine if they are achieving canopy coverage and locate neighborhoods that could benefit the most from increased green infrastructure. Lastly, educational materials were produced that can be used during Groundwork Richmond's canvassing campaigns to educate the local community about the benefits of trees from a scientific perspective.