iUTAH Team - Graduate Research Assistant
University of Utah
Vegetation’s Effect on Temperature in Salt Lake City
iUTAH Research Focus Area
Diane E. Pataki
The transpiration of the urban forest has great potential to mitigate the heat island effect in cities by evaporative cooling. Although we know transpiration can vary at least by 15 orders of magnitude between species, little is known about the specific water use of urban tree species and their individual or in-conjunction potential for evaporative cooling. Besides cooling the local climate, urban trees can also mitigate greenhouse gases, regulate the water cycle, and enhance air quality and human health. Increasing the green infrastructure might thus result in considerable environmental benefits, but it would also entail substantial water costs unless the planting sites and species are chosen carefully. This is especially true for semi-arid cities such as Salt Lake City. This study aims to contribute to the knowledge of the main biological control of the water cycle in urban ecosystems and the potential of trees as urban heat island mitigation agents.
Carolina is a second-year graduate student in the University of Utah’s Biology Department, being advised by Dr. Diane Pataki. She has a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Plant Evolutionary Biology and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Antioquia (Colombia). She worked for Ecopetrol, a petroleum company in Colombia, on pollen as a biostratigraphy tool. She also worked as a research assistant for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and Panama on ecology and systematics of fossil plants and paleoclimate estimation. She had post-graduate training in ecodesign and sustainability and is currently interested in applying ecological principles to urban design, particularly how the urban forest affects microclimate characteristics in cities. The ultimate goal of Carolina’s research is to provide information critical in urban planning, landscape, and water management.