Climate Detectives Projects 2018-2019

Project topic: Deforestation

Project title: On the changing of the vegetation in Lauttasaari

Team: 9k Lauttasaari, Finland  LPS CD School Award

2018-2019   Lauttasaaren yhteiskoulu (Lauttasaari Comprehensive School)   Helsinki   Finland   17 Student’s age: 14-15

Summary of the project

The impact trees have on the urban environment as carbon sinkholes, nutrient sinkholes and binding surfaces for airborne particles made us choose the title ”On the changing of the vegetation in Lauttasaari”. We investigated the loss of forest on the island of Lauttasaari in Helsinki and what kind of problems the deforestation causes. We collected materials and data, e.g. aerial footage and Sentinel-2 satellite images of Lauttasaari from different points of time, and data of how much trees bind CO2 on average. The quantitative analysis was made by measuring the area of urban green environments in Lauttasaari on GeoGebra. We compaired results from images from different years. The timeline was 1954-2017 and the images were from June-August. Then we calculated the amount of trees needed to compensate mean citizen CO2 emissions and also calculated the estimated amount of trees in the Lauttasaari green environments. We wanted to know if the trees growing in Lauttasaari can compensate for the CO2 emissions of the inhabitants. Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and the increasing amount is warming up the climate.

Main results

1. The forested area in Lauttasaari has decreased by 50% from 1954 to 2017 and the rapid phase has occurred between 1988 and 2014. 2. The trees in Lauttasaari can only compensate for the CO2 emissions of about 1900 people, while 24 000 people are living on the island. Calculations are based on the fact that an average Finn produces 10 300 kg of CO2 a year and one tree can bind about 22kg CO2 per year. The conclusion is that the building of urban environments has had a great impact on the forested area i Lauttasaari during the last sixty years. At the same time the forest loss has been 50% and the amount of people has increased and the carbon dioxide emissions per capita has gone up due to a more consuming lifestyle. We also included a study on algal blooming, but due to the material (good quality satellite images available only from 2015 forward) we could only obtain a much shorter timeline. Therefore, we could not see if the increasing algal blooming is correlated with forest loss. However, we could observe that, 1. Algal blooming in the sea around Lauttasaari has increased and is most severe in July-August during warmer summers. 2. In recent years algal blooming in May has also become visible on the satellite images. 3. The summer 2018 was one of the worst considering algal blooming and also one of the warmest ever.

Actions to help lessen the problem

To make an impact we wrote an article to the local newspaper and the school blog. The main point in the article was that the forested areas of Lauttasaari can no more compensate for the CO2 emissions from people living in Lauttasaari. The impact of the diminishing urban forest is therefore more an environmetal problem causing algal blooming due to increasing nutrient flow and causing health problems due to the impact of airborne particles from traffic, which stay longer in the air because of loss of binding vegetational surfaces. This should be kept in mind when making further plans for the development of the city region. Teacher training for Finnish teachers in biology and geography: ”Using EO Browser in teaching geography and climate change” is scheduled for November 2019.

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