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Science of Weather: Urban Heat Islands & Planting Trees

Cities hold and absorb quite a bit of heat, but when trees are planted that helps improve the environment. An urban heat island is when a city experiences warmer temperatures than rural areas nearby. Think about it as a dome of heat surrounding a city. Materials used to build cities trap the heat, like pavement, cement, rooftops, and sidewalks. Those substances hold and absorb more of the sun's heat enhancing hotter temperatures. Whereas less-developed rural areas don't absorb and hold as much heat from the sun. Plants also act as nature's air conditioning. Plants take up water from the ground to their roots and the water will travel to small holes on the plant's leaves. From there, the liquid water changes to water vapor and is released into the air.
In our city you don't see as many trees and plants, so that's why The City of Detroit's General Services Department is committed to planting trees in communities. The plan is to plant 10,000 trees, and so far, they are more than halfway to that goal. This will help beautify the city and dramatically help the environment.

Angel Squalls with Detroit's General Services Department speaks about the importance of trees, "Trees help the environment by helping to mitigate storm water run-off. As you know in Detroit we have experienced increase in frequency and rate of water with our current rain events we've been having. So by planting trees it will help mitigate that by helping reduce the rate of speed in which the water is running off to the ground and the roots will also help absorb some of water to help decrease flooding in our neighborhoods."

Planting trees in the city have other benefits for residents which you may have not thought about.

"They're going to help cool our communities with their leaves once they leaf out into a big canopy and help cool our neighborhoods and also decrease energy bills in the city as well as helping to mitigate asthma in the cities. " Angel adds.

This initiative is helping create a healthier environment for everyone. So next time you are taking a walk, take a few moments to enjoy nature because it's helping our environment. I'm Meteorologist Kylee Miller.

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