Urban land cover type determines the sensitivity of carbon dioxide fluxes to precipitation in Phoenix, Arizona

Elí R. Pérez-Ruiz, Enrique R. Vivoni, Nicole P. Templeton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Urbanization modifies land surface characteristics with consequent impacts on local energy, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes. Despite the disproportionate impact of cities on CO2 emissions, few studies have directly quantified CO2 conditions for different urban land cover patches, in particular for arid and semiarid regions. Here, we present a comparison of eddy covariance measurements of CO2 fluxes (FC) and CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) in four distinct urban patches in Phoenix, Arizona: a xeric landscaping, a parking lot, a mesic landscaping, and a suburban neighborhood. Analyses of diurnal, daily, and seasonal variations of FC and [CO2] were related to vegetation activity, vehicular traffic counts, and precipitation events to quantify differences among sites in relation to their urban land cover characteristics. We found that the mesic landscaping with irrigated turf grass was primarily controlled by plant photosynthetic activity, while the parking lot in close proximity to roads mainly exhibited the signature of vehicular emissions. The other two sites that had mixtures of irrigated vegetation and urban surfaces displayed an intermediate behavior in terms of CO2 fluxes. Precipitation events only impacted FC in urban patches without outdoor water use, indicating that urban irrigation decouples CO2 fluxes from the effects of infrequent storms in an arid climate. These findings suggest that the proportion of irrigated vegetation and urban surfaces fractions within urban patches could be used to scale up CO2 fluxes to a broader city footprint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0228537
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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