" BES Project Abstracts 2005
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2005 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Carbon Storage by Urban Soils
Pouyat, R.V., Yesilonis, I.D., and D. Nowak
Abstract: We used data that is available from the literature and measurements from Baltimore City to 1) assess inter-city variability of soil organic carbon (SOC) pools (1-m depth) of six cities (Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, and Syracuse), 2) calculate the net effect of urban land-use conversion on SOC pools for the same cities; 3) use the National Land Cover Database to extrapolate total SOC pools for each of the lower 48 states, USA; and 4) compare these totals with aboveground totals of carbon storage by trees. Residential areas in Baltimore had SOC densities that were approximately 20 to 34% less than Moscow or Chicago. Of the six cities, Atlanta and Chicago had the highest and lowest SOC densities per total area, respectively (7.83 and 5.49 kg m-2). On a pervious area basis, the SOC densities increased between 8.32 (Oakland) and 10.82 (Atlanta) kg m-2. In the northeastern USA, Boston and Syracuse had 1.6 fold decreases in SOC pools post-urbanization. By contrast, cities located in warmer and or drier climates showed slight increases in SOC pools (4 and 6% for Oakland and Chicago, respectively). For the state analysis, the ratio of aboveground to belowground estimates of C storage varied widely with an overall ratio of 2.8. Our results suggest that urban soils have the potential to sequester large amounts of SOC. In addition, our analysis suggests the importance of regional variations of land use and cover distributions, especially wetlands, in estimating urban SOC pools.