High resolution modeling of vegetation reveals large summertime biogenic CO2 fluxes in New York City
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High resolution modeling of vegetation reveals large summertime biogenic CO2 fluxes in New York City

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  • Journal Title:
    Environmental Research Letters
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    Cities are beginning to monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) to assess the efficacy of their climate policies. However, changes in anthropogenic CO2 emissions must be separated from biospheric CO2 fluxes which have a large seasonal cycle. Urban vegetation (e.g. lawns, trees along street and in parks, etc) in developed land covers is often omitted in regional biogenic CO2 flux models. We set up a biosphere model to estimate the regional biogenic CO2 fluxes in New York City (NYC) and assess the importance of vegetation within developed land covers. The model incorporates a high-resolution (30 m) land cover map which identifies the mixture of impervious surfaces and vegetation that is ubiquitous across developed land covers. We designed three model scenarios to evaluate the role of developed land covers in regional biogenic CO2 fluxes by assuming (a) there is no vegetation versus scenarios where all remotely sensed vegetation in developed land covers is either (b) grassland or (c) deciduous forest. Despite relatively low tree canopy cover in NYC, the regional biogenic CO2 fluxes are surprisingly large when vegetation within the developed land covers is included. Furthermore, the types of vegetation within the developed land covers are crucially important for estimating regional biogenic CO2 fluxes, demonstrated by a doubling in estimates of total biogenic CO2 flux when this vegetation is assumed to be grassland compared to forest. Using a Lagrangian atmospheric transport model, we find that the regional biogenic CO2 uptake offsets up to 40% of atmospheric CO2 enhancements attributed to anthropogenic emissions in summer afternoons and completely balances on-road traffic in one of the most congested cities in the United States. Accurate characterization of the vegetation and biogenic carbon fluxes in cities are essential to the development of effective atmospheric monitoring tools. Future measurements should focus on constraining CO2 fluxes in urban grasslands (i.e. lawns).
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    Environmental Research Letters, 17(12), 124031
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    CC BY
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