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Tornado Micro-climate Effects Featured on WFCR-New England Public Radio

Posted: November 11th, 2011

New England Public Radio/WFCR recently featured a segment on the results of a micro-climate study undertaken in the tornado impact zone of Springfield, MA. The study, completed by David Bloniarz, Adjunct Assistant Professor and US Forest Service Research Scientist, along with Robert Brooks, a Forest Service Research Scientist stationed at UMass, examined the effects of the loss of trees in Springfield on temperature and humidity in tornado damaged areas of the city, resulting from the June 1st storm. The segment can be heard at http://tinyurl.com/crp224o.

The June 1 tornados destroyed numerous homes and buildings….and also tore out of the ground hundreds of trees. While a typical neighborhood in Springfield has about 40 percent of its streets covered by a tree canopy, the tornado-impacted-zone now has only one percent tree cover. As a result, the micro-climate of some neighborhoods has changed – according to a new study by the US Department of agriculture’s forest service. Researchers found that the temperature in tornado damaged areas like East Forest Park and 16 Acres is four degrees fahrenheit hotter than nearby neighborhoods. David Bloniarz is co author of the report. He says his research confirmed many anecdotal accounts he heard from tornado victims, who were lamenting the loss of shade, and other benefits of urban trees.

“They’ve noticed the houses were hotter, they’re running a/c more, and there was a lot more dust in the air. And we were able to show that trees are that natural air filter, they’re air conditioning and they’re that component that keep people smiling and happy.”

Bloniarz says he hopes to keep track of climate trends in the tornado-stricken neighborhoods, as tree replanting efforts continue. and as the tree damage from last month’s snowstorm becomes clearer.