Impacts of Urban Trees on Stormwater Management

Current Students Working on this Project

William Avery

Brian Schlaf

 

Research Topics

Urban Hydrology

Tree Canopy Interception

Stormwater Management

 

Research Methods

Sap Flow sensors to measure water use by urban trees

Soil moisture sensors

Tree-based accelerometers

Image-based Leaf Area Index estimations

Storm sewer discharge monitoring

Weather station data monitoring

In-situ rainfall interception experiments

 

Research Description

This project centers around the presence of street trees within the suburban landscape.  Specifically, this project seeks to explore how urban trees affect the generation of stormwater runoff via rainfall interception and water utilization from soil and groundwater.  It is often assumed that the presence of urban trees is a benefit to the urban hydrologic profile through the capture of rainfall via interception and the slowing of stormwater runoff generation.  However, the interaction between urban trees and the rainfall to runoff process is yet to be understood fully.  Tree canopies exhibit a high degree of heterogeneity in spatial structure, this heterogeneity could compromise the interception capacity of the canopy via a funneling effect of rainfall to impervious surfaces.  Exploring the significance of urban trees with respect to hydrology carries important implications for city planning and the threat of invasive species such as the Emerald Ash Borer.