08 Jan 2024
 | 08 Jan 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Soil respiration across a variety of tree-covered urban green spaces in Helsinki, Finland

Esko Karvinen, Leif Backman, Leena Järvi, and Liisa Kulmala

Abstract. As an increasing share of the human population is being clustered in cities, urban areas have swiftly become the epicentres of anthropogenic carbon (C) emissions. Understanding different parts of the biogenic C cycle in urban ecosystems is needed in order to assess the potential of enhancing their C stocks as a cost-efficient means to balance the C emissions and mitigate climate change. Here, we conducted a field measurement campaign over three consecutive growing seasons to examine soil respiration carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes and soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks at four measurement sites in Helsinki representing different types of tree-covered urban green space commonly found in northern European cities. We expected to find variation in the main drivers of soil respiration – soil temperature, soil moisture, and SOC – as a result of the heterogeneity of urban landscape, and that this variation would be reflected in the measured soil respiration rates. In the end, we could see fairly constant statistically significant differences between the sites in terms of soil temperature but only sporadic and seemingly momentary differences in soil moisture and soil respiration. There were also statistically significant differences in SOC stocks: the highest SOC stock was found in inactively managed deciduous urban forest and the lowest under managed streetside lawn with common linden trees. We studied the impacts of the urban heat island (UHI) effect and irrigation on heterotrophic soil respiration with process-based model simulations, and found that the variation created by the UHI is relatively minor compared to the increase associated with active irrigation, especially during dry summers. We conclude that, within our study area, the observed variation in soil temperature alone was not enough to cause variation in soil respiration rates between the studied green space types, perhaps because the soil moisture conditions were uniform. Thus, irrigation could potentially be a key factor in altering the soil respiration dynamics in urban green space both within the urban area and in comparison to non-urban ecosystems.

Esko Karvinen, Leif Backman, Leena Järvi, and Liisa Kulmala

Status: open (extended)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-3031', Anonymous Referee #1, 11 Feb 2024 reply
Esko Karvinen, Leif Backman, Leena Järvi, and Liisa Kulmala

Data sets

Soil respiration, soil carbon, soil temperature, and soil moisture measured in urban green spaces in Helsinki during 2020-2022 Esko Karvinen

Esko Karvinen, Leif Backman, Leena Järvi, and Liisa Kulmala


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Short summary
We measured and modelled soil respiration, a key part of the biogenic carbon cycle, in different urban green space types to assess its dynamics in urban areas. We discovered surprisingly similar soil respiration across the green space types, despite differences in some of its drivers, and that irrigation of green spaces notably elevates soil respiration. Our results encourage further research on the topic, especially on the role of irrigation in controlling urban soil respiration.