Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2007 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Modeling carbon storage and sequestration potential in urban soils using the CENTURY model.
Trammell, Tara
Co-Authors: Tara Trammell, Richard Pouyat, Margaret Carreiro, and Ian Yesilonis
Abstract: Despite large-scale impacts of urban landscapes on soils, soil carbon dynamics in urban landscapes are understudied. While current studies of soil carbon content offer insight to past response legacies to urban environments, there is still great uncertainty surrounding the extent to which urban soils will sequester and store carbon under continued human impact. The CENTURY model is a mechanistic model simulating plant-soil ecosystem interactions. One advantage of modeling urban soil carbon using CENTURY includes its ability to simulate responses to different management manipulations. Urban landscapes are highly heterogeneous land mosaics with varying degrees of management, and we expect that soil carbon pools and cycling rates will vary tremendously across patch types. CENTURY simulations were conducted using soil data collected throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area across several land cover types. Initial model runs for medium- and high-density residential land-use classes demonstrated differential soil carbon densities between residential classes (5683 vs. 5517 grams C per sq. meter, 20 cm depth, respectively). Simulations that included direct human management of lawns (e.g., fertilization and irrigation) showed increases in soil carbon storage as expected, but did not overcome initial residential density differences (6902 vs. 6621 grams C per sq. meter). CENTURY model runs will be conducted for other urban landscape patch types and comparisons made between relatively unmanaged systems (e.g., forest) and directly managed systems (e.g., golf courses, parks). Modeling current and future urban soil carbon storage and sequestration potential is important for estimating the future carbon offset potential of urban areas.