Effect of topping on microclimate condition and human comfort

2016 | Francesco Ferrini, PhD, University of Florence, Italy and Co-Investigator Simone Orlandini, PhD, University of Florence, Italy

Urban trees create many benefits in terms of thermal comfort and Urban Heat Island (UHI) mitigation during the summer season. These benefits are strictly linked to tree canopy, but the management of the trees in the urban environment includes pruning activities.

The aim of this work is to evaluate the effects of topping on microclimate conditions in the area where trees are planted. We hypothesized that topping can affect temperature of air and soil and air relative humidity. Thus, we want to test the hypothesis that topping does not only depress tree health, but also directly reduces thermal comfort and human well being in cities. The experiment will be conducted using 96 15-year-old maple (Acer spp.) and linden (Tilia spp.) trees. Half of them will be topped in late winter, while the remaining half will be left unpruned, according to a randomized block statistical design with four replicates. Sensors for measuring air temperature and relative humidity during the summer season have been placed in early summer 2016 in the area of research. After topping, tree growth and physiology will be checked, and air and soil temperature and air relative humidity will be continuously monitored for two years, and the effect on human comfort will be calculated by applying biometeorological indices.

Year: 2016

Funding Duration: 1-3 years

Grant Program: Jack Kimmel International Grant

Grant Title:Effect of topping on microclimate condition and human comfort

Researcher: Francesco Ferrini

Key words:

Peer Reviewed Publications from Grant:

General Audience/Trade Publications:


  • Ferrini, F.  2018. Pruning to death: effect of topping on plant growth and physiology and on microclimate conditions. 2018 International Society of Arboriculture Annual International Conference and Trade Show, Columbus, OH, Aug. 5-8.


For more information on this project, contact the researcher via TREE Fund at treefund@treefund.org.