NYC’s greenery surprisingly captures carbon emissions from all the vehicles in the city
The city is the number one emitter in America and the third largest in the world.
New York City has a reputation of being a gritty and grey urban metropolis. However, the five boroughs actually feature a whole lot of greenery. Fascinating new research by a team at Columbia University’s Climate School finds that on sunny summer days, photosynthesis by local trees and green spaces absorbs all the carbon emissions produced by surrounding cars, trucks, and buses! Study authors believe these surprising findings highlight the underappreciated importance of urban greenery in the carbon cycle. The team analyzed vegetation across all of NYC, as well as some densely populated nearby areas, using new hyper-local vegetation maps. Thanks to these fine-grained vegetation maps, the research team was able to document large amounts of previously unrecognized greenery scattered all over small areas, even in highly developed urban regions. This ultimately led to the finding that all those green spaces collectively are playing an “outsized role” in the exchange of atmospheric gases. Study authors even modeled carbon uptake for every bit of lawn and tree canopy, and studied data provided by local instrument towers measuring the air’s carbon dioxide content continually.Urban areas and neighborhoods make up over 70 percent of human carbon dioxide emissions. New York City, meanwhile, just happens to be the United States’ number one emitter (and the third largest on a global scale).
“There is a lot more greenery than we thought, and that’s what drives our conclusion,” says lead study author Dandan Wei, a postdoctoral researcher at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in a university release. “This tells us that the ecosystem matters in New York City, and if it matters here, it probably matters everywhere else.”