Columbia University Study Finds Trees Grow Much Faster in Urban Environment

Posted on April 28, 2012

Researchers from Columbia University found that common native red oak seedlings grow as much as eight times faster in New York's Central Park than in more rural, cooler settings in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. The "urban heat island" phenomenon makes large cities hotter than the surrounding countryside. Cities also tend to stay warmer overnight, which is beneficial to the red oak seedlings. Even the city pollution may help the trees by providing a higher fallout of airborne nitrogen.

Tree physiologist Kevin Griffin of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who oversaw the study, says, "Some organisms may thrive on urban conditions."

Stephanie Y. Searle, a Washington, D.C., environmental researcher who was a Columbia undergraduate when she started the research, says, "Some things about the city are bad for trees. This shows there are at least certain attributes that are beneficial."

Animators from NMA News animated this study. Take a look:

The study was published here in Tree Physiology.

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