The Influence of Urban Soil Rehabilitation on Soil Carbon Dynamics, Greenhouse Gas Emission, and Stormwater Mitigation
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Global urbanization has resulted in rapidly increased urban land. Soils are the foundation that supports plant growth and human activities in urban areas. Furthermore, urban soils have potential to provide a carbon sink to mitigate greenhouse gas emission and climate change. However, typical urban land development practices including vegetation clearing, topsoil removal, stockpiling, compaction, grading and building result in degraded soils. In this work, we evaluated an urban soil rehabilitation technique that includes compost incorporation to a 60-cm depth via deep tillage followed by more typical topsoil replacement. Our objectives were to assess the change in soil physical characteristics, soil carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, and stormwater mitigation after both typical urban land development practices and post-development rehabilitation. We found typical urban land development practices altered soil properties dramatically including increasing bulk density, decreasing aggregation and decreasing soil permeability. In the surface soils, construction activities broke macroaggregates into smaller fractions leading to carbon loss, even in the most stable mineral-bound carbon pool. We evaluated the effects of the soil rehabilitation technique under study, profile rebuilding, on soils exposed to these typical land development practices. Profile rebuilding incorporates compost amendment and deep tillage to address subsoil compaction. In the subsurface soils, profile rebuilding increased carbon storage in available and aggregate-protected carbon pools and microbial biomass which could partially offset soil carbon loss resulting from land development. Yet, urban soil rehabilitation increased greenhouse gas emissions while typical land development resulted in similar greenhouse gas emissions compared to undisturbed soils. Additionally, rehabilitated soils had higher saturated soil hydraulic conductivity in subsurface soils compared to other practices which could help mitigate stormwater runoff in urban areas. In our study, we found urban soil management practices can have a significant impact on urban ecosystem service provision. However, broader study integrating urban soil management practices with other ecosystem elements, such as vegetation, will help further develop effective strategies for sustainable cities.
- Doctoral Dissertations 
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