It turns out our lawns can play a very significant role in the efforts to reduce the effects of global warming. Through the process of photosynthesis, grass takes in carbon dioxide and stores carbon in the soil. Recent studies at Ohio State University have shown that lawns can remove and store twice the amount of carbon from the air in a year then a tree can in 10.
There are an estimated 80 million home lawns in the U.S. covering an estimated 50 million acres, an area 3 times larger than the largest irrigated crop. It is estimated that up to 800 lbs of carbon per acre is sequestered by Turfgrass each year; almost 1/2 ton per acre. This results in 20 million tons of carbon being removed from the atmosphere each year in the U. S. alone.
Why is this important? Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere have risen dramatically in recent years, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels and dramatic changes in land use. CO2 is a one of the most important greenhouse gases that trap solar heat in the atmosphere, essential to making planet Earth habitable.
Too much CO2 in the atmosphere, however, will cause more heat to be trapped, causing global temperatures to rise, leading to climatic changes. By removing CO2 from the air Turfgrass may help to reduce the effects of climate change.
And what about emissions from the equipment to maintain the lawn. Recent studies have shown that managed lawns will capture 4 times more carbon than is produced by the average lawnmower. For well maintained lawns, with regular mowing, fertilization, and responsible watering, net carbon capture results can be even higher.
Temperatures on lawn surfaces can be 10 to 14 degrees cooler than on concrete or asphalt.
Yes. Green spaces can play a big role in modifying temperatures and controlling climate.
Through photosynthesis grass absorbs sunlight to produce energy. Grass plants will take in the Sun's heat during the day and release it slowly at night, helping to moderate temperatures.
Turf helps cool off surrounding areas through the evapotranspiration process. Lawn areas cool the air as water evaporates from the blades of grass. As much as 50% of the Sun's heat falling on the turf will be absorbed and eliminated through transpiration.
The front lawns of eight homes can have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning, greatly reducing energy needs and the burning of fossil fuels needed to produce it. It has been estimated that strategic planting of lawns and landscape plants could reduce the energy required for air conditioning by 25%.
Green spaces are very important in helping to control hot Summer temperatures, especially in urban areas. Overall temperatures in urban areas have been found to be 5 to 7 degrees warmer than in rural areas.
A study by the University of Manchester has found that a 10% increase in green space in urban areas would reduce urban surface temperatures by up to 4 degrees. This would have a major impact on countering the "heat island" effect so common in large urban areas.