According to the researchers, the results indicate a very high rate of organic matter decomposition in urban soils, which contributes to the accelerated formation of carbon dioxide
The conditions of the urban environment accelerate carbon dioxide production by about one-third, Russian scientists said after they compared greenhouse gas emissions inside and outside Arctic cities, press service of the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) reports.
The researchers have found that Arctic soils emit up to 30% more carbon dioxide in an urban environment than in natural conditions. They explain this for several reasons: the increased temperature in cities, the use of peat as a substrate in creating green spaces, and the peculiarities of their care, the report says.
This conclusion was reached by a group of researchers led by a researcher at RUDN University, which is located in Moscow, Russia. They measured the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by unfrozen soil in the Russian Arctic. To obtain this information, they spent two years collecting and studying soil samples in the large Arctic city of Murmansk, the relatively small town of Apatity (Murmansk Region, Russia) and their surrounding natural areas. These territories are included in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation.
The Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation (AZRF) is the world’s largest special economic zone where special taxation and administrative schemes are applied for investors.
The researchers' measurements showed that soils in ten different parts of the Apatity urban area emitted 30% more carbon dioxide than soils in the neighbouring natural areas. Such a difference was not typical for Murmansk, because soils in the wilderness areas adjacent to that city released abnormally large amounts of CO2.
At the same time, the scientists found that urban soils were about 3 degrees Celsius warmer than the soils in the Arctic natural areas. Also, the soils contained about 2-3 times less carbon than the soils in the neighbouring uninhabited Arctic areas.
According to the researchers, the results indicate a very high rate of organic matter decomposition in urban soils, which contributes to the accelerated formation of carbon dioxide.
In addition, the researchers found that lawn soils in Murmansk and Apatity emit about 10-15 per cent less CO2 than soils around trees and shrubs. The researchers explain it by fallen leaves under shrubs and trees, and by the fact that utility services add peat to the soil next to those plants.
The results should be taken into account when working out measures aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in the Russian Arctic, the scientists concluded.