Study: Florida’s stormwater ponds are net sources of atmospheric carbon
Study results indicate that Florida’s urban stormwater ponds are net sources of carbon to the atmosphere despite increased carbon burial over time
Stormwater ponds are engineered ecosystems designed for flood control and sediment retention in urban watersheds. They are the most commonly used stormwater control measure in the United States, but their biogeochemical processes and impacts are often overlooked. Comparing carbon burial to gas flux reveals that stormwater ponds can be net carbon sources and need to be considered for regional and global carbon models.
A recent study* by Florida researchers suggests that after urban ponds are constructed, they emit large proportions of carbon inputs from the landscape and potentially increase storage efficiency over time. They hypothesize that when carbon enters urban stormwater ponds, less carbon is buried in younger ponds compared to older ponds, as seen in burial studies on aging artificial ponds. Younger ponds may exhibit higher carbon mineralization rates which simultaneously increases emissions while reducing burial. However, identified trends can be drastically altered depending on how ponds are managed, suggesting management actions can be used to modulate pond carbon storage and emission.
* Goeckner, A.H., Lusk, M.G., Reisinger, A.J. et al. Florida’s urban stormwater ponds are net sources of carbon to the atmosphere despite increased carbon burial over time. Commun Earth Environ 3, 53 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-022-00384-y