- Climate change and increasing urbanization will clearly affect the urban climate.
- Ecosystem services of urban trees can mitigate urban climate changes.
- An urban tree growth model is introduced which is able to simulate these services.
- Growth is calculated process based in dependence on environmental conditions.
- Ecosystem services strongly depend on species, tree age and tree size.
Global processes of urban growth lead to severe environmental impacts such as temperature increase with an intensification of the urban heat island effect, and hydrological changes with far reaching consequences for plant growth and human health and well-being. Urban trees can help to mitigate the negative effects of climate change by providing ecosystem services such as carbon storage, shading, cooling by transpiration or reduction of rainwater runoff. The extent of each ecosystem service is closely linked with the tree species as well as with a tree’s age, size, structure and vitality. To evaluate the ecosystem services of urban trees, the process-based growth model CityTree was developed which is able to estimate not only tree growth but also the species-specific ecosystem services including carbon storage, transpiration and runoff, shading, and cooling by transpiration. The model was parametrized for the species small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata), robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia), plane (Platanus × acerifolia) and horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). The model validation for tree growth (stem diameter increment, coefficient of correlation = 0.76) as well as for the water balance (transpiration, coefficient of correlation = 0.92) seems plausible and realistic. Tree growth and ecosystem services were simulated and analyzed for Central European cities both under current climate conditions and for the future climate scenarios. The simulations revealed that urban trees can significantly improve the urban climate and mitigate climate change effects. The quantity of the improvements depends on tree species and tree size as well as on the specific site conditions. Such simulation scenarios can be a proper basis for planning options to mitigate urban climate changes in individual cities.