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The effects of sealing on urban soil carbon and nutrients

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/10/2021
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)661–675
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Urban soils are of increasing interest for their potential to provide ecosystem services such as carbon storage and nutrient cycling. Despite this, there is limited knowledge on how soil sealing with impervious surfaces, a common disturbance in urban environments, affects these important ecosystem services. In this paper, we investigate the effect of soil sealing on soil properties, soil carbon and soil nutrient stocks. We undertook a comparative survey of sealed and unsealed green space soils across the UK city of Manchester. Our results reveal that the context of urban soil and the anthropogenic artefacts added to soil have a great influence on soil properties and functions. In general, sealing reduced soil carbon and nutrient stocks compared to green space soil; however, where there were anthropogenic additions of organic and mineral artefacts, this led to increases in soil carbon and nitrate content. Anthropogenic additions led to carbon stocks equivalent to or larger than those in green spaces; this was likely a result of charcoal additions, leading to carbon stores with long residence times. This suggests that in areas with an industrial past, anthropogenic additions can lead to a legacy carbon store in urban soil and make important contributions to urban soil carbon budgets. These findings shed light on the heterogeneity of urban sealed soil and the influence of anthropogenic artefacts on soil functions. Our research highlights the need to gain a further understanding of urban soil processes, in both sealed and unsealed soils, and of the influence and legacy of anthropogenic additions for soil functions and important ecosystem services.