Effects of tree plantings and aspect ratios on pedestrian visual and thermal comfort using scaled outdoor experiments

Taihan Chen, Haonan Pan, Mengrong Lu, Jian Hang, Cho Kwong Charlie Lam, Chao Yuan, David Pearlmutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Urban trees ameliorate heat stress for urban dwellers. However, it is difficult to quantitatively assess the integrated impacts of tree planting and street layouts on visual and thermal comfort in simulations and urban field experiments. We conducted scaled outdoor experiments in Guangzhou to investigate the influence of tree plantings on pedestrian visual and thermal comfort in street canyons with various aspect ratios (H/W = 1, 2, 3; H = 1.2 m). We considered the effects of tree crown covers (big and small crown) and tree planting densities (ρ = 1, 0.5) on pedestrian illuminance level and two thermal comfort indices (Physiological Equivalent Temperature: PET and Index of Thermal Stress: ITS). When ρ = 1, trees in most cases reduce pedestrian illuminance (maximum 140.0klux) and improve visual comfort. Decreasing ρ from 1 to 0.5 increases the illuminance (maximum 179.5klux) in the streets with big crown trees (H/W = 1, 2) and in the street with small crown trees (H/W = 2). When ρ = 1 (H/W = 1, 2), big crown trees decrease the peak daytime PET (by about 4.0 °C) and ITS (by about 285 W). Small crown trees (ρ = 1, H/W = 1, 2) produce a warming effect on peak daytime PET (2.0-3.0 °C), but a reduction in ITS is observed when H/W = 2, 3. After reducing ρ from 1 to 0.5, big crown trees increase peak daytime thermal stress according to both indices when H/W = 1, 2. Small crown trees exhibit a similar PET cycle between ρ = 0.5 and ρ = 1 across various H/W, but their daytime reduction of ITS is less effective when ρ = 0.5 (H/W = 2). The discrepancies between PET and ITS are attributed to their different approaches to modelling radiation fluxes. The narrower the street, the lower the illuminance, PET, and ITS, while their increases caused by reduced ρ are limited in narrow streets. Our study informs some potential urban tree planting strategies and produces high-quality validation data for numerical simulations and theoretical models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149527
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2021


  • Illuminance
  • Scaled outdoor measurement of urban climate and health (SOMUCH)
  • Thermal comfort
  • Urban vegetation
  • Visual comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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