Main content area

The role of air pollution and climate on the growth of urban trees

Locosselli, Giuliano Maselli, Camargo, Evelyn Pereira de, Moreira, Tiana Carla Lopes, Todesco, Enzo, Andrade, Maria de Fátima, André, Carmen Diva Saldiva de, André, Paulo Afonso de, Singer, Julio M., Ferreira, Luciana Schwandner, Saldiva, Paulo Hilário Nascimento, Buckeridge, Marcos Silveira
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.666 pp. 652-661
Tipuana tipu, air pollution, air quality, aluminum, barium, cities, climate change, climatic factors, dendrochronology, ecosystem services, particulates, soil, temperature, temporal variation, tree growth, trees, urban areas, zinc, Brazil
The urban environment features poor air quality and harsher climate conditions that affect the life in the cities. Citizens are especially vulnerable to climate change, because heat island and impervious exacerbates extreme climate events. Urban trees are important tools for mitigation and adaptation of cities to climate change because they provide ecosystem services that increase while trees grow. Nonetheless, the growth of trees may be affected by the harsher conditions found in the urban environment. We assessed the impact of air pollution and climate on the spatial/temporal variability of tree growth in São Paulo, Brazil, one of the largest urban conglomerates in the world. For this purpose, we sampled 41 trees of the Tipuana tipu species in a region that includes industrial areas. We built a tree-ring chronology using standard dendrochronological methods. Spatial analyses show that trees grow faster in the warmer parts of the city and under higher concentrations of airborne P, whereas growth is reduced under higher concentrations of Al, Ba, Zn. Particulate matter (PM10) from the industrial cluster also reduce average growth rate of trees, up to 37% in all diameter classes. Similar results were obtained via temporal analyses, suggesting that the annual growth rate is positively associated with temperature, which explain 16% of interannual growth variability. Precipitation, on the other hand, has no association with tree growth. The average concentration of PM10 explains 41% of interannual growth variability, and higher concentrations during the driest months reduce growth rate. Despite heat island effect and water limitation in the soil of the city, this species takes advantage of warmer conditions and it is not limited by water availability as measured by precipitation. On the other hand, air pollution directly impacts the growth of these trees being a major limiting growth factor.