Damla Kiral, a now third year MSci Zoology student, was awarded a Faculty Sustainability Studentship in Franciska de Vries’ lab to estimate the total amount of carbon stored in the Smith Quad. Soil is the third largest global carbon pool, and it stores more carbon than vegetation and atmosphere combined. The amount of carbon stored in soils can be increased to mitigate CO2 emissions, which cause global climate change.
Damla took soil samples from all vegetation types in the Quad and analysed them for total carbon content. She also measured the bulk density, soil depth, and area of all vegetation types, and calculated the total amount of carbon stored in the Smith Quad.
She found that the Smith Quad stores 12.1 tons of carbon in total. The majority of this carbon (75%) is stored in the grass areas, because grass covers the largest area of the quad. However, the raised beds had the highest carbon concentration (17%, compared to 7% under grass).
The total amount of carbon stored in the quad is equal to the amount of carbon emitted from 60 economy class direct return flights from Manchester to Paris.
This project illustrates the importance of urban soils in carbon storage, and the role the University can play in this. But, it also highlights an easier way for academics to mitigate carbon emissions, by simply cutting down their air travel.