2013 Conference of the International Medical Geology Association (25–29 August 2013)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


JUSTUS, F. K, Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University, 1 Normal Ave, Montclair, NJ 07043, justusf2@mail.montclair.edu

Climate change is linked to warmer than average ocean surface waters and more evaporation that adds moisture into the atmosphere. This increases the likelihood of stronger storms which cause heavy rain, strong winds and flooding. Resultant extreme weather events such as hurricanes are of profound effect on environment and communities in general. Observed effect might be largely felt by urban tree landscapes, trees which often face developmental challenges including limited root space for expansion, salt from de-icing of roads, and imbalance in tree stature caused by asymmetrical crown formation consequential from pruning. Strong storm winds defoliate tree canopies, causing dramatic structural changes in wooded ecosystems. A study to assess the spatial spread of impact on tree community in an urban – sub-urban set up of Glenridge, New Jersey is described. Specific objectives determined structural damage by estimating diameter of fallen trees, establishing species types, as well as evaluating linkage between soil characteristics and abundance of fallen trees. An integration of spatial analysis and field survey data using GPS and leafsnap app, for mapping tree location and species identification respectively is highlighted. Structural assessment validates excessive impact of strong wind on large trees with mean trunk diameter of 39.35 inches. Overall, 51 trees were surveyed, belonging to seven species. A broader family of oaks species (red, scarlet, black), few maple trees (Norway, Scarlet) and Sweet gum and pines were impacted. Linkage of soil characteristics and abundance of fallen trees indicate a compelling number of trees on disturbed USBOO soils (49%). Other soils, BowrB (27.5%), Boob (13.7%), BowrC (7.8%) and USDUNB (2.0%) show relatively minimal association. Need for city wide tree inventorying, engaging appropriate local management partnerships and a coordination framework is demonstrated.