Google have made a special new computer programme – using artificial intelligence (AI) – to try and help tackle climate change.
Google has designed the ‘Tree Canopy Lab’ which combines AI and aerial imaging – photos taken from the air – to see which areas in a city need more trees.
Planting trees is an important way to look after the planet – trees can absorb carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and can store it for many years.
They can help prevent flooding and reduce pollution, and they can help ‘cool down’ cities too.
The Tree Canopy Lab shows what percentage of neighbourhoods have tree coverage, and how many people are living in that area.
Photos are taken during all seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Infra-red photography is also used to show hot and cool areas.
The photos are then scanned by Google AI to see how many trees an area has. It also shows which areas are subject to extreme heat.
So far, the Lab has been working with the city of Los Angeles, which is part of the state of California in the US.
They found that half of people in Los Angeles, live in an area with 10% or less tree coverage, and 44% live in extreme heat risk areas.
In a post online, Google said: “Extreme temperatures are becoming more common in cities where concrete and infrastructure are now creating heat islands – areas that experience higher temperatures, leading to poor air quality, dehydration and other public health concerns.
“Trees are increasingly seen as a solution to both lowering street-level temperatures while improving quality of life.”
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, said: “Every tree we plant can help stem the tide of the climate crisis, when we expand our urban forest, we can sow the seeds of a healthier, more sustainable and equitable future for communities hit hardest by rising temperatures and intensifying heatwaves.”
The City of LA is working to plant more trees in the areas where they are most needed.
By 2028, the city wants to increase tree canopy cover by 50 percent in “severely heat impacted” neighbourhoods.
It also set a goal of planting 90,000 trees across the city by 2021. That should bring an additional 2.1 million sq miles of shade to the city.