Estimating the Biomass of the Indianapolis and Chicago Urban Forests

Authors: Jacob Klaybor*, Purdue University, Brady Hardiman, Purdue University, Gillian Clark, Purdue University
Topics: Environment, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban, forests, carbon, biomass, climate change, Indianapolis, Chicago
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


While urban ecosystems are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions they also contain significant quantities of vegetation that sequester atmospheric carbon and influence atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The quantity and distribution of urban vegetation have historically been ignored or underestimated, hindering the ability of researchers to understand the interactions between carbon sources and sinks in the city. No study has previously produced a biomass map of the Chicago and Indianapolis Metropolitan Statistical Areas at a high resolution; such data would significantly improve accuracy of efforts to measure, monitor, and mitigate the impacts of climate change on urban ecosystem services. This project seeks to provide an estimate of the quantity and spatial distribution of aboveground biomass in urban forests in the metropolitan areas of Indianapolis, IN and Chicago, IL. Tree biomass is estimated with data from municipal street tree inventories and species-specific allometric relationships based on tree diameters. We employed boosted regression trees to relate biomass to a variety of landcover data layers to create a map of biomass across each city, allowing us to examine patterns of quantity and spatial distribution of urban canopy cover and biomass. These maps can be used to improve the accuracy of atmospheric carbon cycling models by predicting the carbon sink strength of urban vegetation. Our study will serve as a foundation for future investigations of the socioecological drivers of biomass distribution patterns such as population density, neighborhood age and economic status, and how biomass distribution influences ecosystem services.

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