Soil respiration contributes substantially to urban carbon fluxes in the...

Decina, S. M., L. R. Hutyra, C. K. Gately, J. M. Getson, A. B. Reinmann, Short Gianotti, and P. H. Templer (2016), Soil respiration contributes substantially to urban carbon fluxes in the greater Boston area, Environmental Pollution., 212, 433-439, doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2016.01.012.

Urban areas are the dominant source of U.S. fossil fuel carbon dioxide (FFCO2) emissions. In the absence of binding international treaties or decisive U.S. federal policy for greenhouse gas regulation, cities have also become leaders in greenhouse gas reduction efforts through climate action plans. These plans focus on anthropogenic carbon flows only, however, ignoring a potentially substantial contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from biological respiration. Our aim was to measure the contribution of CO2 efflux from soil respiration to atmospheric CO2 fluxes using an automated CO2 efflux system and to use these measurements to model urban soil CO2 efflux across an urban area. We find that growing season soil respiration is dramatically enhanced in urban areas and represents levels of CO2 efflux of up to 72% of FFCO2 within greater Boston's residential areas, and that soils in urban forests, lawns, and landscaped cover types emit 2.62 ± 0.15, 4.49 ± 0.14, and 6.73 ± 0.26 μmolCO2 m−2 s−1, respectively, during the growing season. These rates represent up to 2.2 times greater soil respiration than rates found in nearby rural ecosystems in central Massachusetts (MA), a potential consequence of imported carbon amendments, such as mulch, within a general regime of landowner management. As the scientific community moves rapidly towards monitoring, reporting, and verification of CO2 emissions using ground based approaches and remotely-sensed observations to measure CO2 concentrations, our results show that measurement and modeling of biogenic urban CO2 fluxes will be a critical component for verification of urban climate action plans.

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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Program (CCEP)