Help NASA: Urban Tree Tracker Project - NBC Southern California

Help NASA: Urban Tree Tracker Project

Identify trees around the Natural History Museum, and help a bigger, cooler goal.



    Help NASA: Urban Tree Tracker Project
    Lend your counting/observing prowess at the Natural History Museum's Urban Tree Tracker event on Saturday, Aug. 23, and help a study looking at the cooling effects of city foliage.

    That oh-so-noticeable drop in temperature, when you turn the corner from a tree-less street onto an avenue lined with leafy branches? We've all experienced it, the shift from a warmer to cooler microclimate, in just a few steps.

    It isn't just a random, pass-by experience, but a rather significant one. And NASA is intent on studying microclimates around our region with microclimate-minded fly-overs. The goal of the fly-overs? The agency is looking to "develop models" to "identify interacting relationships between climate, land cover, temperature, evaporation rates, and demographic patterns across LA."

    "On the ground data will corroborate the NASA aerial imagery collected during flights at the end of August and September 2014," says the Natural History Museum, which is working with NASA on the Earthwatch Tree Tracker project, which considers "the cooling effect of urban trees."

    So how can we help Earthwatch out? By lending a hand as part of a citizen science group set on "identifying trees and taking measurements" at the Natural History Museum's Nature Gardens and south lawn. "On the ground data will corroborate the NASA aerial imagery collected during flights at the end of August and September 2014."

    The date is Saturday, Aug. 23. It's free to participate but you'll need to RSVP to, as space is limited. If you can't visit the Exposition Park institution, a number of organizations shall spread out at various green spaces to take measurements.

    Tree Tracker comes with three initiatives that citizen scientists should keep in mind as they gather data. One question to ponder: "How do different tree species and configurations of trees cool both the parks they are growing in, as well as the neighborhoods the parks border?"

    Interesting stuff, and worthy ideas to ponder. Leafy trees acting as cooling agents in our urban spaces is a hot topic, and one sure to grow in prominence. Playing a part today can positively impact a time far down the road, citizen scientists of Southern California. Here's how to get involved.

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