New ENST Research Finds A Singular Weapon in Stormwater Management: Urban Trees

ENST's Mitch Pavao-Zuckerman and Sara Ponte Find Individual Trees Absorb Far More Water Than Those in Clusters or Forests

New UMD research helps quantify how much even a single tree can contribute to a city's green infrastructure, helping to control flooding and reduce runoff.

November 22, 2021 Graham Binder

It’s hard to overstate the environmental importance of trees, which among other functions pull climate change-inducing carbon from the atmosphere, clean the air of toxins and help control runoff.

While it can likewise be hard to quantify some of these effects, a new study by University of Maryland researchers helps clarify the role of urban trees in mitigating stormwater flows, and finds that even isolated trees lining a street or planted in a park may have a significant effect.

A study published a few days ago in the journal Scientific Reports by Assistant Professor Mitch Pavao-Zuckerman and doctoral candidate Sara Ponte, both of the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, found that individually planted trees capture, store and release stormwater back into the atmosphere—a process called “transpiration”—at a rate three times that of trees in a forest. The study was conducted in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the nonprofit Center for Watershed Protection, with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

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