Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2010 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Carbon Pools in Urban Forest Remnants in Baltimore and Atlanta
Yesilonis, Ian
Co-Authors: Richard V. Pouyat, Dave Nowak

Abstract: Urban environments influence carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles of forest ecosystems by altering plant biomass, litter mass and chemistry, passive and active pools of C and N, and the occurrence and activity of decomposer organisms. It is difficult to determine the net effect of C storage due to the number of environmental factors exerting stress on urban forests. Using a conceptual model to synthesize results from gradient studies of forest patches in metropolitan areas, we attempt to explain the mechanisms affecting C cycling. We also assess the relative importance of C accumulation in urban remnant forests with respect to other land uses previously disturbed or managed. The cities of Baltimore and Atlanta are used as case studies. The C density of forest above-ground biomass for Baltimore City, 8 kg m-3, and Atlanta, 10.6 kg m-3, is significantly higher for both low- and high-density residential areas. Baltimore City has a forest-soil C density of 10.6 kg m-3, a below-to-above ground ratio of 1.3. Urban forest remnants in these two cities store a high amount of C on a per-unit basis both above- and below ground relative to other land uses, but total C storage is lower due to the lower acreage of urban forest in these cities relative to other land uses.