Urban soils release surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

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Science Daily.

In the concrete jungle at the core of a city, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are dominated by the fossil fuels burned by the dense concentrations of cars and buildings. Boston University researchers now have shown, however, that in metropolitan areas surrounding the city core, plant roots and decomposing organic material in soil give off enough CO2 , in a process termed “soil respiration,” to make an unexpectedly great contribution to total emissions.

In fact, analyzing CO2 released from soil respiration at 15 sites across greater Boston, the BU scientists found that during the growing season, releases of the greenhouse gas from soil may approach those of fossil fuels in dense residential areas. The first study of urban soil CO2 to reach this wide scale and to integrate a high-resolution model of both soil respiration and local fossil fuel emissions, the research will help to improve assessments of climate action programs.

“Very close to this concrete jungle downtown, where you have a lot of fossil fuel emissions and no soil, you have residential areas that have lower fossil fuel emissions and a whole lot of soil,” says Stephen Decina, a doctoral student and lead author on a paper published today in…

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