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Landscape planning and biogeochemistry: estimating and analyzing carbon sequestration efficacy in dryland open space

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Despite public demand for climate change mitigation and natural open space conservancy, existing political and design efforts are only beginning to address the declining efficacy of the biotic carbon pool (C-pool) to sequester carbon. Advances in understanding of biogeochemical processes

Despite public demand for climate change mitigation and natural open space conservancy, existing political and design efforts are only beginning to address the declining efficacy of the biotic carbon pool (C-pool) to sequester carbon. Advances in understanding of biogeochemical processes have provided methods for estimating carbon embodied in natural open spaces and enhancing carbon sequestration efficacy. In this study, the benefits of carbon embodied in dryland open spaces are determined by estimating carbon flux and analyzing ecological, social, and economic benefits provided by sequestered carbon. Understanding the ecological processes and derived benefits of carbon exchange in dryland open spaces will provide insight into enhancing carbon sequestration efficacy. Open space carbon is estimated by calculating the amount of carbon sequestration (estimated in Mg C / ha / y) in dryland open space C-pools. Carbon sequestration in dryland open spaces can be summarized in five open space typologies: hydric, mesic, aridic, biomass for energy agriculture, and traditional agriculture. Hydric (wetland) systems receive a significant amount of moisture; mesic (riparian) systems receive a moderate amount of moisture; and aridic (dry) systems receive low amounts of moisture. Biomass for energy production (perennial biomass) and traditional agriculture (annual / traditional biomass) can be more effective carbon sinks if managed appropriately. Impacts of design interventions to the carbon capacity of dryland open space systems are calculated by estimating carbon exchange in existing open space (base case) compared to projections of carbon sequestered in a modified system (prototype design). A demonstration project at the Lower San Pedro River Watershed highlights the potential for enhancing carbon sequestration. The site-scale demonstration project takes into account a number of limiting factors and opportunities including: availability of water and ability to manipulate its course, existing and potential vegetation, soil types and use of carbon additives, and land-use (particularly agriculture). Specific design challenges to overcome included: restoring perennial water to the Lower San Pedro River, reestablishing hydric and mesic systems, linking fragmented vegetation, and establishing agricultural systems that provide economic opportunities and act as carbon sinks. The prototype design showed enhancing carbon sequestration efficacy by 128-133% is possible with conservative design interventions.

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2012

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Soil Microbial Responses to Different Precipitation Regimes Across a Southwestern United States Elevation Gradient

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Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil moisture and temperature governing microbial activity and subsequent soil C processes. Predictions for future climate include warmer temperatures and altered precipitation regimes, suggesting impacts on future soil C cycling. However, it is uncertain how soil microbial communities and subsequent soil organic carbon pools will respond to these changes, particularly in dryland ecosystems. A knowledge gap exists in soil microbial community responses to short- versus long-term precipitation alteration in dryland systems. Assessing soil C cycle processes and microbial community responses under current and altered precipitation patterns will aid in understanding how C pools and cycling might be altered by climate change. This study investigates how soil microbial communities are influenced by established climate regimes and extreme changes in short-term precipitation patterns across a 1000 m elevation gradient in northern Arizona, where precipitation increases with elevation. Precipitation was manipulated (50% addition and 50% exclusion of ambient rainfall) for two summer rainy seasons at five sites across the elevation gradient. In situ and ex situ soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were measured in precipitation treatments in all sites. Soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were highest at the three highest elevation sites compared to the two lowest elevation sites. Within sites, precipitation treatments did not change microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC. Soil CO2 flux was greater under precipitation addition treatments than exclusion treatments at both the highest elevation site and second lowest elevation site. Ex situ respiration differed among the precipitation treatments only at the lowest elevation site, where respiration was enhanced in the precipitation addition plots. These results suggest soil C cycling will respond to long-term changes in precipitation, but pools and fluxes of carbon will likely show site-specific sensitivities to short-term precipitation patterns that are also expected with climate change.

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2019