Jenkins, Jennifer (University of Vermont, University of Vermont, 590, Main St., Burlington, VT, 05405; Phone: 802-656-2953; Fax: 802-656-2995; Email:


Carbon Stocks and Fluxes in Urban and Suburban Residential Landscapes


J.C. Jenkins *, M.L. Cadenasso, P.M. Groffman, S.T.A. Pickett, J.M. Grove, M.L. Cox


Substantial carbon (C) sequestration occurs in residential systems, though the residential land base is largely excluded from national greenhouse gas inventories.  In fact, EPA’s 2002 inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks reports that, of the 188 Tg C sequestered in the US, 87% (164 Tg C) was sequestered in forests (including wood products and soils), while 3% (6 Tg C) was sequestered in agricultural soils. Fully 8% of the C sequestered nationwide in 2002 (16 Tg C) was stored in urban trees (both above- and below-ground) and the remaining 1% (3 Tg C) was stored in landfills as yard trimmings and food scraps. Despite the large land area occupied by residential systems, the importance of these areas for the human population, the aesthetic similarity of residential land all across the country, and the rapid conversion of land to these residential uses, very little is currently known about the biogeochemical processes occurring in urban and suburban residential areas.  Our work will begin to fill this knowledge gap by quantifying C stocks and fluxes, and the factors that drive them, in residential neighborhoods of metropolitan Baltimore, Maryland.  We are in the early stages of a project designed to: a) quantify key C stocks and fluxes in the vegetated component of the residential landscape; and b) identify the relative importance of urban ecosystem structure, soil functional properties, historical land use, and land management practices as drivers of C stocks and fluxes in residential systems.  Though this work is taking place as part of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), an NSF-supported Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, it will test methods that can be used in assessments of C cycling in residential areas in other regions, laying the groundwork for future cross-city analyses.  In addition, this study will contribute to the ongoing effort to characterize the Northern Hemisphere C budget by providing data on components of the C budget that have largely been ignored.