Urban Trees as Sinks for Soot: Deposition of Atmospheric Elemental Carbon to Oak Canopies and Litterfall Flux to Soil
Description: Elemental carbon (EC), a product of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass, contributes to climate warming and poor air quality. In urban areas, diesel fuel trucks are the main source of EC emissions from mobile sources. After emission, EC is deposited to receptor surfaces via two main pathways: precipitation (wet deposition) and directly as particles (dry deposition). Urban trees may play an important role in removing EC from the atmosphere by intercepting and delivering it directly to the soil. The goal of this research was to quantify the magnitude of EC retention in leaf waxes (in-wax EC) and EC fluxes to the soil via leaf litterfall in the City of Denton, Texas. Denton is a rapidly growing urban location in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. A foliar extraction technique was used to determine EC retention in leaf waxes. Foliar samples were collected monthly, from April through July, from pairs of Quercus stellata (post oak, n=10) and Quercus virginiana (live oak, n = 10) trees. Samples were rinsed with water and chloroform in a two-step process to determine EC retained in leaf waxes. A Sunset OC/EC aerosol analyzer was utilized to analyze the EC content of extracts filtered onto quartz-fiber filters. From April through July, leaf litter was collected bi-weekly under 35 trees (20 post oak, 15 live oak), and oven dried to determine dry weight. EC retained by tree canopies was estimated by multiplying in-wax EC by canopy leaf area index, while EC flux to soil was estimated by multiplying in-wax EC by leaf litterfall mass. This study shows that through retention of EC in leaf waxes, urban tree canopies represent important short-term sinks for soot in urban areas.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Rindy, Jenna