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Impact of shading on evapotranspiration and water stress of urban trees

Tams, Laura; Paton, Eva Nora; Kluge, Björn

Evapotranspiration of urban street trees is essential in mitigating urban heat islands due to its cooling effect. However, current shifts in rainfall and temperature regimes towards drier and hotter periods in Central Europe have caused substantial water stress for street trees. Quantifying and subsequently managing these changing dynamics as well as estimating evapotranspiration and water availability is necessary but at the same time extremely challenging in urban environments. Both dynamics are influenced by soil sealing and complex shading patterns of the surrounding street canyon, which vary on a small spatial scale as a function of the canyon layout and orientation. In the present study, the diurnal patterns of six typical urban shading types for street trees were derived by considering a large set of street orientations, widths and tree positions within the street canyon. A shading model was integrated into a hydrological urban tree model to assess the impact of those shading types on diurnal patterns of radiation and evapotranspiration rates calculated using the Penman–Monteith approach and the resulting soil moisture conditions for several vegetation seasons and water-supply scenarios. The modelling results showed that the six shading patterns significantly influenced the simulated hourly, daily and seasonal potential and actual evapotranspiration rates and water availability. Shaded trees have a substantially reduced, simulated water stress period, regardless of initial water supply, and are able to provide a longer-lasting cooling function during dry periods due to higher evapotranspiration rates later in the summer season.
Published in: Ecohydrology, 10.1002/eco.2556, Wiley