Michael Alonzo

Assistant Professor, Environmental Science

Mike Alonzo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at American University. He uses geospatial analyses of airborne and satellite imagery to understand terrestrial ecosystem response to global change. He has a particular focus on the relationship between trees and heat in urban areas. The urban forest is an important component of heat mitigation in cities, but it remains unclear where or under what climatic conditions tree planting or maintenance are the most efficient and equitable temperature reduction strategies. His team uses bike and car-mounted air temperature datasets along with other biophysical and socioeconomic/demographic datasets to determine who is benefitting from green space and when those benefits are available. While trees cool the city, they are themselves subject to the stress from hot urban life. Alonzo’s team also studies urban tree response to heat using high-resolution satellite data and drone-based thermal imagery. This work on forest function and health has been considered for operational mitigation in cities from DC to Des Moines and has influenced urban tree canopy legislation regionally. Alonzo teaches courses in satellite remote sensing, geographic information systems, and urban ecology.

Current Projects

  • Urban tree response to heat (National Science Foundation)
  • The how, when, and where of urban trees and heat island mitigation (International Society of Arboriculture)
  • Remote sensing and knowledge co-production in northern Haiti (Center for Environment Community and Equity)


American Association Geographers

International Association for Urban Climate