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Vegetation and land-use effects on the spatial distribution and accumulation of soil black carbon in an urban ecosystem

Authors: Katherina Kang*, , Alexandra Ponette-González, University of North Texas, Reid Ferring, University of North Texas, Erika Marín-Spiotta, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Topics: Environmental Science
Keywords: carbon cycle, soot, urbanization, atmospheric pollution
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Black carbon (BC) is a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of biomass, biofuels, and fossil fuel. Atmospheric BC is second only to CO2 in terms of solar radiation absorption, enhancing global atmospheric temperatures. It is also a particulate pollutant that, when inhaled, increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease in humans. Fossil fuel combustion is the dominant source of atmospheric BC within urban ecosystems. While soil is likely the largest pool for BC within the urban BC cycle, there is evidence that vegetation is a significant intermediate pool, capturing BC particles and delivering them to the soil via throughfall (water that falls through canopy) and litterfall. This suggests that soils below urban tree canopies may be hotspots for BC accumulation. The main objectives of this research are to examine the spatial distribution of BC in urban soil and determine the influence of tree canopy cover and landscape maintenance on soil BC accumulation. Soil sampling was conducted at 29 sites throughout the City of Denton, Texas, in May 2019. Samples were collected from underneath post oak canopies and in adjacent open areas and are being analyzed for total carbon, total organic carbon, BC, and carbon isotopic composition (δ13C). Relationships between soil BC concentrations and accumulation, canopy cover, and maintenance levels will be examined. Identifying patterns and potential drivers of soil BC accumulation is important because soil BC sequestration not only reduces detrimental atmospheric effects, but also may provide additional pollution mitigation benefits, thereby contributing to a more sustainable urban environment.

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