In what might be the first study to report continuous measurements of net CO2 exchange of urban vegetation and soils over a full year or more, scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the University of Minnesota conclude that not only is vegetation important in the uptake of the greenhouse gas, but also that different types of vegetation play different roles. Their findings will be published July 4 in the current issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
"There has been little research of this type in the urban landscape," said Joe McFadden, an associate professor in the UC Santa Barbara Department of Geography, and a co-author of the study. While continuous CO2 measurements have been made in natural ecosystems all around the globe, only in the past few years have researchers attempted to use them in developed areas such as cities and suburbs, which often contain large amounts of green space.
"The net exchange of CO2 between the land and the atmosphere is determined by the balance between things that release CO2, such as burning fossil fuels and respiration of living organisms, and the uptake of CO2 by plant photosynthesis," said first author Emily Peters, from the University of Minnesota.
Using a method of measuring CO2 exchange that involves placing sensors high above the ground to record tiny changes in CO2, temperature, water vapor and wind, McFadden and Peters set out to monitor the suburbs just outside of St. Paul, Minn., a place with distinct seasonal changes and enough rainfall for plants to grow without irrigation.
"The question was: Can we see what the green space is doing against the backdrop of human activities?" said McFadden.
The researchers found that typical suburban greenery, such as trees and lawns, played significant roles with respect to CO2'/>"/>
Contact: Sonia Fernandez
University of California - Santa Barbara
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