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Resource Language:


Regional Focus

North America, United States

The Tree Cover and Temperature Disparity in US Urbanized Areas: Quantifying the Association with Income Across 5,723 Communities

Authors: Robert I. McDonald, Tanushree Biswas
Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Economics, Civics, Geography, Justice, Health
Resource Type:
  • Scientific Report or Paper
This scientific paper discusses original research that looked at the connections between tree cover and summer temperatures, tree cover, and other variables in various urban locations around the United States. Students will:
  • Gain experience reading a scientific paper.
  • Learn about the significant correlations that exist between tree cover and summer temperatures, population density, income level, and race/ethnicity.
  • Gain insight into the scientific method as it applies to answering important questions.
Teaching Tips


  • According to their findings, a "targeted investment in tree planting of $15.8 billion would close the urban tree cover disparity for 34 million people in low-income blocks of moderate or greater population density, although it would likely take at least 5–10 years for planted trees to be large enough to deliver significant ecosystem service benefits."

Additional Prerequisites

  • It would be beneficial for students to understand the basics of writing a scientific paper and applying the scientific method.
  • Background experience reading scientific papers would be helpful.


  • Cross-curricular connections could be made with social studies, biology, history, geography, math, and economics.
Scientist Notes
Resource will deepen students' understanding on tree disparity among the low-income and high-income population blocks in the USA, especially in the northeastern part of the USA where the population is disproportionately impacted by climate change impact due to increased deforestation. The resource is suitable, valid, and recommended for teaching.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.2.6-8 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
      • D2.Geo.2.9-12 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.
    • Dimension 3: Developing Claims and Using Evidence
      • D3.3.6-8 Identify evidence that draws information from multiple sources to support claims, noting evidentiary limitations.
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