A recent study entitled: 'Comparison of Soil Carbon Dioxide Efflux between Residential Lawns and Corn Fields' reveals some surprises concerning the effect of urbanization on the carbon cycle. The study authored by David R. Bowne and Erin R. Johnson appears in the current issue of Soil Science Society of America Journal.
The study confirms the effect of heat on carbon efflux, such that higher temperatures lead to higher carbon efflux as a result of all organisms increasing respiration in response to increased heat.The surprise was that urban lawns had a higher carbon efflux than did agricultural areas. However, the authors point out that urban areas are known to be exposed to higher heat. These so called heat islands that result from the dark surfaces; black top, roofs, etc.; that characterize urban development. They propose that these heat islands have more localized effects leading to increased soil temperatures for residential lawns and thus the observed higher carbon output. Dr. Bowne intends to continue research in this area in hopes of uncovering how changes in land use affect the carbon cycle.