Skip to Main Content
Carbon storage by urban soils in the United StatesAuthor(s): Richard V. Pouyat; Ian D. Yesilonis; David J. Nowak
Source: Journal of Environmental Quality 35: 1566-1575.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northeastern Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (1.82 MB)
DescriptionWe used data available from the literature and measurements from Baltimore, Maryland to (i) assess inter-city variability of soil oganic carbon (SOC) pools (1-m depth) of six cities (Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, and Syracuse); (ii) calculate the net effect of urban land-use conversion on SOC pools for the same cities; (iii) use the National Land Cover Database to extrapolate total SOC pools for each of the lower 48 U.S. states; and (iv) compare these totals with aboveground totals of carbon storage by trees. Residential soils in Baltimore had SOC densities that were approxitnately 20 to 34% less than Moscow or Chicago. By contrast, park soils in Baltimore had more than double the SOC density of Hong Kong. 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 United States, Boston and Syracuse had 1.6-fold less SOC post- than in pre-urban development stage. By contrast, cities located in warmer and/or drier climates had slightly higher SOC pools post- than in pre-urban development stage (4 and 6% for Oakland and Chicago, respectively). For the state analysis, aboveground estimates of C density varied from a low of 0.3 (WY) to a high of 5.1 (GA) kg m-2, while belowground estimates varied from 4.6 (NV) to 12.7 (NH) kg m-2. 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, especially in residential areas where management inputs and the lack of annual soil disturbances create conditions for net increases in SOC. In addition, our analysis suggests the importance of regional variations of land-use and land-cover distributions, especially wetlands, in estimating urban SOC pools.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationPouyat, Richard V.; Yesilonis, Ian D.; Nowak, David J. 2006. Carbon storage by urban soils in the United States. Journal of Environmental Quality 35: 1566-1575.
- Carbon stocks in urban forest remnants: Atlanta and Baltimore as case studies. Chapter 5.
- Total Belowground Carbon Allocation in a Fast-growing Eucalyptus Plantation Estimated Using a Carbon Balance Approach
- Contrasting natural regeneration and tree planting in fourteen North American cities
XML: View XML