Operation Smart Water (October 2018 – current)

In our newest program, Operation Smart Water, we aim to find ways to efficiently use water for plant life during time of water droughts, while also studying how watering plants can work with and against environmental factors to provide air cooling effects. Want to get involved with the program? Learn more here.

Operation Healthy Air (April 2017 – August 2018)

During Operation Healthy Air we engaged partners and participants to map and measure how differences in their environment—such as amount of trees or pavement, affect local air quality and temperature. A pilot sampling “campaign” in Long Beach, and Chino, and the Inland Empire (e.g. Riverside and Redlands) took place in the summer of 2017 and expanded in 2018 to greater Los Angeles. Data from this project is currently being analyzed and findings will be posted soon.

Operation Resilient Trees (July 2015 – June 2017)

During Resilient Trees 1.0 (July 2015 – May 2016), citizen scientists collected measurements on 10 different tree species across a 150 mile-long geographical gradient in order to better understand each species’ water use, cooling benefit, and physiological performance in each climate zone. Resilient Trees 2.0 (July – December 2016) continued this work with almost 400 tree measurements on a new set of ten species. Resilient Trees 3.0 (January – June 2017) will focus on another set of 10 species, culminating in valuable research on 30 species of urban trees that are potentially “climate-ready.”

Operation Tree Canopy (August 2014 – 2015)

Citizen scientists collected on-the-ground data to corroborate NASA aerial imagery of the study region. Recording tree species, health, size, and taking a physical sample of each tree’s leaves, citizen scientists provided essential ground-truthing for the climate, land cover, and temperature models being developed from NASA’s data. The data are currently being analyzed and we expect a publication in late 2017.



Earthwatch Institute launched the Urban Resiliency Program recognizing the need for more data-driven solutions and civic engagement in addressing urban challenges. The program started in 2014 in Los Angeles to fill critical research needs about creating resilient urban environments and providing opportunities for the public to become involved in doing real science about their local environment in a fun way. While the program began in the Southern California area, we aim to expand and engage people globally.

Our program was created as a response to the needs identified by local organizations for better information about which trees to plant to create a resilient urban environment. By mobilizing members of the public in citizen science, the program seeks to generate data that informs the creation of green space and also build a community of informed ambassadors who are willing and informed about how best to build a resilient urban environment. Dr. Darrel Jenerette of UC Riverside leads the program’s scientific team.

This is an effort to help cities and urban regions anticipate and respond to the effects of climate change, and to help urban populations understand and reduce the burdens they place on their environment.

The Urban Resiliency Program is where citizens and institutions actively contribute in science-informed activities to build communities that are cooler, healthier, and use less water by increasing urban tree cover.



Learn about the science involved in the program.


Meet the scientific experts behind this project.


See the impact of the data we’ve collected so far.


Search Earthwatch Urban Resiliency Program