In Dallas as in Phoenix, People Look to Trees for Relief from Urban Heat Islands

by Brandon Loomis
Jan 5, 2018 2:15 PM ET

Dallas and Phoenix are the fastest warming cities in the United States, and while both cities will always be hot, an article published by the Arizona Republic details how these cities are working to balance economic growth and environmental sustainability to reduce temperatures and improve the health and quality of life of its residents. In 2017, the Texas Trees Foundation conducted an Urban Heat Island Management Study of Dallas and its surrounding areas. The study, funded by Alliance Data and considered one of the most comprehensive urban heat studies in the country, found that more than one-third of Dallas is covered in concrete and commercial and residential buildings. The solution? The study found more green spaces, i.e. trees, can offset the concrete and other impervious surfaces in these growing regions. See how planting more trees in both cities is changing and saving lives.


Few neighborhoods in America need trees more than South Oak Cliff, a sun-blasted shade desert in this rapidly warming Texas city.

Like much of Phoenix, the south-side Dallas district lacks sufficient shade for comfort during summer and safety during heat waves, when temperatures can climb as much as 11 degrees higher than parts of the city where the shade cover is greater.

Despite South Oak Cliff's leafy name, big shade trees are relatively scarce along its streets. In this part of Dallas, the canopy, a measure of areas covered by trees, is one-third as dense as it is in the city overall, and neighbors say the trees that do exist are aging and falling over in storms.

Dallas ranks just behind Phoenix on the list of fastest-warming urban heat islands, metropolitan areas where heat-absorbing concrete and asphalt push temperatures higher during the hottest months.

These islands of urban development contribute to a steady rise in temperatures and can intensify heat's deadly effects, focusing the worst of it on inner cities and neighborhoods where residents can least afford to seek relief. 

Continue reading on >>>