Central Park is being turned into a scientific lab to study climate change

Central Park, New York
Central Park, New York   -  Copyright  Canva
By Reuters

Central Park, New York City's 843-acre green lung created in 1858, has been turned into a climate change laboratory.

Researchers hope the idea will help parks nationwide become more resilient.

The Central Park Climate Lab team wants to use data from satellites and on the ground to study seasonal patterns and how plant and animal life respond to shifting weather.

"We want to understand how the park is part of the solution," says Karen Seto, professor of geography and urbanisation science at the Yale School of the Environment.

We want to understand how the park is part of the solution.

"How much carbon does the park sequester? How much cooling relief does the park offer to both people who come to the park, but also residents around the park?"

The lab was launched with two New York City-based nonprofits, Central Park Conservancy and Natural Areas Conservancy, earlier this year.

Central Park is being turned into a climate lab.Canva

'Cities are part of the solution to climate change'

"Cities are going to have to be part of the climate change solution," says Seto. "We're hoping to inform policy in terms of how best to manage the assets here in the park ... so that the green space can continue to provide cooling relief, cleaning air, etc."

Over the past decade, Central Park has been subject to numerous extreme weather events including heavy rain, blizzards, high winds, and extreme heat and cold.

In September 2021, Hurricane Ida dropped 3.15 inches of rain on the park in one hour, beating the record set just 10 days prior.

Standing by an uprooted tree, Peter Haupt, tree care manager for the Central Park Conservancy, says the project is installing tools to measure incremental growth in trees.

The aim is to "eventually get to the point where we can make some conclusions about how climate change is impacting the park," adds Haupt, who has worked in the park for almost 13 years.