The effect of trees on human energy fluxes in a humid subtropical climate region. Academic Article uri icon


  • Trees are considered to be an effective tool for improving human thermal comfort in hot climates and have been widely used in landscape architecture. However, it is not always clear how trees affect human-environment energy fluxes. In this study, an in-depth analysis of four common tree species was undertaken based on comprehensive field measurements, in terms of how each tree and its characteristics affected the energy fluxes of a person in a humid subtropical climate region. Results showed that the largest effect of trees was on radiation fluxes, with a much smaller effect on the convective and evaporative fluxes. For a person standing in shade, a tree can reduce approximately 25% of the absorbed radiation compared with an open reference point. Moreover, the cooling effect on radiation components was found to be greater in the solar radiation domain than in the terrestrial radiation domain. Solar radiation and ground surface temperature had the largest effect on a human energy budget, which was affected by characteristics of the trees and the thermophysical properties of ground surfaces. The effect from relative humidity and wind speed was quite minimal. For the four common tree species in this study, Ficus microcarpa had the best thermal performance by reducing the most absorbed solar radiation flux. This study shows a detailed empirical research about the thermal effects of trees on a person, providing recommendations for tree species selection in urban design.

published proceedings

  • Int J Biometeorol

author list (cited authors)

  • Liu, Z., Brown, R. D., Zheng, S., Zhang, L., & Zhao, L.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Liu, Zhixin||Brown, Robert D||Zheng, Senlin||Zhang, Lei||Zhao, Lihua

publication date

  • October 2020