Thomas Chung

Project title:

Understanding the radiative performance of urban trees

Partner Organisation:

Forest Research 

First Supervisor:

Dr Stefan Smith

Second Supervisor:

Professor Li Shao

Project description:

The focus on the radiative and biological response of trees to solar near infrared (NIR) and long-wave (LW) radiation in an urban context fits with the uptake of urban greening as an engineering solution to climate change. The interactions between trees/vegetation and buildings can significantly influence the urban thermal environment, but their radiative exchanges are insufficiently understood (especially in the NIR or LW ranges). This research will enable a step change in the understanding of this important aspect of urban trees and provide quantitative and systematic information, which facilitates tree species selection and built environment design. The main research objectives of this project over the 4 year period are to systematically quantify the interactions between trees with solar radiation and the urban thermal environment, so as to assess their passive cooling performances. The knowledge will improve understanding of the benefits and potential issues of trees (e.g. subsidence, VOC emissions) in an urban context, leading to a database of the measured performances and related insights, for example, due to the effects of soil moisture and tree management, to aid decision making about trees in the urban environment. 

Project poster:

Download Thomas' project poster (PDF - 510KB)

Student profile:

Coming from a background in agricultural science I have always had an interest in plant science and the interlinkage with climate change. After working in research on automated drones for precision agriculture applications I decided to follow private interest and join the field of overseas development consultancy. Working with small stakeholders on sustainable agroforestry projects in the Himalayan low mountain ranges gradually heightened my curiosity about the rural urban continuum as cities play a vital role in local livelihood approaches. Subsequently I decided to further my understanding of the built environment by pursuing an MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development with the development planning unit at UCL. Understanding the benefits of greenspace in urban agglomerations is vital in providing urban planners with tools to build sustainable and resilient cities. Working with Forest Research on understanding the radiative performance of urban trees combines my interests in plant properties and environmental planning in an urban context.

Associated/Relevant Research Groups/Centres:

Land Regeneration and Urban Greenspace Research Group (LRUG)
Centre for Sustainable Forestry and Climate Change



Expected completion date:


Why did you chose Reading:

The University of Reading delivers excellent research in the fields of climatology, plant science and the built environment. Pursuing an engineering doctorate with the University of Reading and Forest Research provides work experience on top of the PhD level research thus making it an added value choice. Furthermore, the TSBE Centre follows a multidisciplinary approach towards research in the sustainability nexus thereby creating a dynamic knowledge exchange. Finally, the University also leads by example through providing a pleasant work and study environment on an open and green campus.


BSc. Agricultural Science, Humboldt University, Berlin
MSc. Environment and Sustainable Development, University College, London


Journal papers
Conference papers
Book chapters




Kaule e.V. Organisation for Socially Sustainable Agro-Projects
UNV Online Volunteering Service
UCL Urban Agriculture Society
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) - Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) initiative

Things to do now

  • 0118 378 8533


Page navigation


Search Form

A-Z lists