The Central Park Climate Lab

Tackling the effect of climate change on city parks

Working in partnership, the Central Park Conservancy, the Yale School of the Environment, and the Natural Areas Conservancy formed the Central Park Climate Lab. The Climate Lab is a partnership and research initiative that seeks to understand the threats of climate change to urban parks and the mitigation and adaptation benefits of urban parkland. The team is working to develop tools and methodologies to help urban park managers assess the impacts of climate change and make informed decisions.

There are over one million acres of urban parks in the United States. These spaces play a unique role in mitigating risks and promoting public health in the face of climate change. Despite this, existing research on adapting greenspaces to climate change is focused on rural environments.

Severe weather events—such as unprecedented rainfall, blizzards, high winds, and extreme heat and cold—strain resources and impact urban parks’ tree canopies, plants, and wildlife, all of which are vital to the health of a city and its residents. But there are no unified sources of information or policy recommendations to aid cities in the management and protection of their parks in the face of these challenges.

Central Park offers a unique setting to begin studying climate change adaptation in urban parks as it has been impacted by some of the more severe effects of climate change within the past decade. For example, Central Park’s tree canopy was severally impacted by Superstorm Sandy and an October snow event in 2011. Research will also encompass New York City greenspaces and select city parks around the country. With the data acquired, the Lab will build on the work of leading researchers in the field to create scalable strategies for implementing climate mitigation and adaption solutions.

“Parks are essential for New Yorkers, as this last couple of years have proven, but flooding, high winds, and extreme temperatures pose a threat to their health. The Central Park Climate Lab begins a new era in research and cooperation that will give our park professionals improved tools to combat the climate crisis, and it will be a model for urban parks across the country.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams

Experts from the Yale School of the Environment, the Natural Areas Conservancy, and the Central Park Conservancy are working to connect science with management practices for urban parks in a changing climate. Our goal is to help all cities enhance their ability to support the wellbeing of the hundreds of millions of people who visit or live near urban parks. Many American urbanites’ experience of nature begins and ends with their city’s public park system, and their health relies on these protection efforts. Together, we will better understand how urban greenspaces can be used to create a more resilient future for all.

North Woods 20200725 IMG 9976 RT

Summer 2022 Cooling Study

What are the cooling benefits of urban greenspaces? Learn more about the Central Park Climate Lab Cooling Study.

Learn More

Supported by:

Delta logo