Problem: Approximately 10% of terrestrial C storage in the conterminous USA is in human settlements. Of that 10%, it is estimated that about 65% is in soils, 20% is in vegetation, 10% is in landfills, and 5% is in buildings. Currently, nearly 80% of the USA population resides in urban areas, and land area dedicated to urban use continues to expand. The importance of urban ecosystem C cycling will increase as urban lands increase, and the International Panel on Climate Change has identified the importance of protecting urban C and increasing urban C sequestration. A major limitation of current urban ecosystem C models is that is that they do not accurately account for soil C sequestration and turnover. The amount of stored C in urban soils is largely unknown, especially at depths greater than 25 cm.
Goals: Two goals of this research are: (1) to characterize C storage and turnover in soil (0-100 cm), litter, and vegetation across urban land-uses throughout the Chicago urban ecosystem, and (2) use that data to test a model predicting C storage across this ecosystem.
Methods: In 2013, 200 randomly located plots were sampled throughout the seven-county Chicagoland ecosystem. Two, 100 cm plus soil cores were extracted from each plot. These soil cores are being described (texture, structure, color, pH, etc.) and the C contents in organic, inorganic, labile and recalcitrant pools being determined. Carbon in living and dead biomass and litter layer was assessed on the plots. Tree increment cores were collected and are being analyzed to assess tree growth rates.
Personnel: This research is led by Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch and Dr. Robert Fahey, and Margaret Bialecki (The Morton Arboretum). Corrine Erickson, Chris Burns, and Kevin Garbis are Research Assistants working on this project.
Funding: This research is part of the Chicago Urban Ecosystem Study, which is funded by the USDA-Forest Service National Urban & Community Forestry Advisory Council. Click the icon below to go to the CUFS study.
Scharenbroch, B.C. 2012. Urban Trees for Carbon Sequestration. In (Eds.). Lal, R. and Augustin, B. Proceedings from the Carbon Sequestration in Urban Ecosystem. Columbus, OH. Springer Verlag. London. pp 121-138.
Scharenbroch, B.C. and J.E. Lloyd. 2006. Particulate organic matter and soil nitrogen availability in urban landscapes. Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. 32:180-191.
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