Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Residential lawns efflux more carbon dioxide than corn fields, study finds

Date:
April 23, 2013
Source:
Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)
Summary:
More carbon dioxide is released from residential lawns than corn fields according to a new study. And much of the difference can likely be attributed to soil temperature. The data suggest that urban heat islands may be working at smaller scales than previously thought.

More carbon dioxide is released from residential lawns than corn fields according to a new study. And much of the difference can likely be attributed to soil temperature. The data, from researchers at Elizabethtown College, suggest that urban heat islands may be working at smaller scales than previously thought.

These findings provide a better understanding of the changes that occur when agricultural lands undergo development and urbanization to support growing urban populations.

David Bowne, assistant professor of biology, led the study to look at the amount of carbon dioxide being released from residential lawns versus corn fields in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His co-author, Erin Johnson, was an undergraduate at the time of the study and did the work as part of her senior honors thesis. Their findings were published online today in Soil Science Society of America Journal.

For Bowne, the study allowed him to look beyond the obvious impact of losing agricultural fields to development -- the loss of food that was once produced on the land.

"That is a legitimate concern, but I wanted to look more at how this change could potentially impact the carbon cycle with the understanding that the carbon cycle has implications for global climate change," explains Bowne.

To begin to understand how the carbon cycle was changing, Bowne and Johnson measured carbon dioxide efflux, soil temperature, and soil moisture under the two different land uses. They found that both carbon dioxide efflux and soil temperature were higher in residential lawns than in corn fields. Additionally, temperature had the most influence on the levels of carbon dioxide efflux, followed by the type of land use.

Higher temperatures leading to increased carbon dioxide efflux was not a surprise for Bowne and Johnson as this relationship has been documented before. "As you increase temperature," Bowne explains, "you increase biological activity -- be it microbial, plant, fungal, or animal." That increased activity, then, leads to more respiration and higher levels of carbon dioxide leaving the soils.

What was unexpected, however, was that the higher temperatures found in residential lawns suggested urban heat islands working at small scales. Urban heat islands are well documented phenomena in which development leads to large areas of dark-colored surfaces such as roofs, buildings, and parking lots. The dark color means more heat is absorbed leading to an increase in temperature in the neighboring areas. Urban areas, then, are warmer than the surrounding countryside.

The interesting part of Bowne's study is that the urban heat islands in the areas he was looking seem to operate on much smaller scales than he previously thought. While heat islands are usually studied on large scales -- such as comparing a large city and its surrounding rural areas -- fewer studies have been done to work out how development may affect temperatures on small scales.

"Within a developed area, within a city or town, you could have local increases in soil temperature because of the amount of development within a really small area," says Bowne.

His research suggests that temperatures may vary even across short distances due to the influence of development. One source cited in his paper says that development within even 175 meters of a location can cause an increase in temperature. Bowne is planning further experiments to test soil temperatures over a range of development setups and sizes.

The other factor that Bowne will test in the future is the sequestration of carbon. Along with the carbon dioxide efflux data in the current study, information about carbon sequestration would give a bigger picture of carbon cycling. That picture could then help researchers determine how various land uses as well as management practices such as no-till agriculture or leaving grass clippings on lawns can change the carbon cycling.

"If we go from one land use to another land use, how does that impact carbon cycling which in turn can affect climate change? Our current study touches on one component of that cycle, and more research is needed to address this huge topic," says Bowne.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David R. Bowne, Erin R. Johnson. Comparison of Soil Carbon Dioxide Efflux between Residential Lawns and Corn Fields. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2013; 0 (0): 0 DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2012.0346N

Cite This Page:

Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). "Residential lawns efflux more carbon dioxide than corn fields, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423110711.htm>.
Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). (2013, April 23). Residential lawns efflux more carbon dioxide than corn fields, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423110711.htm
Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). "Residential lawns efflux more carbon dioxide than corn fields, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423110711.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) A Spanish scientist, who spent 12 days trapped about 1300 feet underground in a cave in Peru's remote Amazon region, was rescued on Tuesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) Rescuers were forced to suspend plans to recover at least two dozen bodies from near the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan on Tuesday after increased seismic activity raised concern about the possibility of another eruption. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins