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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 23, 2024
  3. Abstract

    The idea of green infrastructure (GI) has generated great interest and creativity in addressing a range of challenging and expensive environmental problems, from coastal resilience to control of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The appeal of GI stems from its cost savings compared to traditional “gray” infrastructure and the multiple benefits it provides, including biodiversity, aesthetics, and carbon sequestration. For example, a “green” approach to controlling CSOs in New York City saved $1.5 billion compared to a “gray” approach. Despite these advantages, GI still does not have detailed design and reliability specifications as compared to engineered gray infrastructure, potentially hindering its adoption. In this paper, we review some of the potential applications of GI in modern environmental science and discuss how reliability and associated (un)certainty in net benefits need to be addressed to realize the potential of this new approach.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 16, 2024
  5. Abstract

    Land-use change is highly dynamic globally and there is great uncertainty about the effects of land-use legacies on contemporary environmental performance. We used a chronosequence of urban grasslands (lawns) that were converted from agricultural and forested lands from 10 to over 130 years prior to determine if land-use legacy influences components of soil biodiversity and composition over time. We used historical aerial imagery to identify sites in Baltimore County, MD (USA) with agricultural versus forest land-use history. Soil samples were taken from these sites as well as from existing well-studied agricultural and forest sites used as historical references by the National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Baltimore Ecosystem Study program. We found that the microbiomes in lawns of agricultural origin were similar to those in agricultural reference sites, which suggests that the ecological parameters on lawns and reference agricultural systems are similar in how they influence soil microbial community dynamics. In contrast, lawns that were previously forest showed distinct shifts in soil bacterial composition upon recent conversion but reverted back in composition similar to forest soils as the lawns aged over decades. Soil fungal communities shifted after forested land was converted to lawns, but unlike bacterial communities, did not revert in composition over time. Our results show that components of bacterial biodiversity and composition are resistant to change in previously forested lawns despite urbanization processes. Therefore land-use legacy, depending on the prior use, is an important factor to consider when examining urban ecological homogenization.

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  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 14, 2024
  8. Whalen, Joann (Ed.)

    Residential landscapes are essential to the sustainability of large areas of the United States. However, spatial and temporal variation across multiple domains complicates developing policies to balance these systems’ environmental, economic, and equity dimensions. We conducted multidisciplinary studies in the Baltimore, MD, USA, metropolitan area to identify locations (hotspots) or times (hot moments) with a disproportionate influence on nitrogen export, a widespread environmental concern. Results showed high variation in the inherent vulnerability/sensitivity of individual parcels to cause environmental damage and in the knowledge and practices of individual managers. To the extent that hotspots are the result of management choices by homeowners, there are straightforward approaches to improve outcomes, e.g. fertilizer restrictions and incentives to reduce fertilizer use. If, however, hotspots arise from the configuration and inherent characteristics of parcels and neighborhoods, efforts to improve outcomes may involve more intensive and complex interventions, such as conversion to alternative ecosystem types.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 29, 2024
  9. The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) established a network of long-term permanent biogeochemical study plots in 1998. These plots provide long-term data on vegetation, soil and hydrologic processes in the key ecosystem types within the urban ecosystem. The network of study plots includes forest plots (upland and riparian), chosen to represent the range of forest conditions in the area and grass plots (to represent home lawns). Plots are instrumented with lysimeters (drainage and tension) to sample soil solution chemistry, time domain reflectometry probes to measure soil moisture, dataloggers to measure and record soil temperature, and trace gas flux chambers to measure the flux of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane from soil to the atmosphere. Measurements of in situ nitrogen mineralization, nitrification and denitrification were made at approximately monthly intervals from Fall 1998 - Fall 2000. Detailed vegetation characterization (all layers) was done in summer 1998 and 2015. Data from these plots has been published in Groffman et al. (2006, 2009), Groffman and Pouyat (2009), Savva et al. (2010), Costa and Groffman (2013), Duncan et al. (2013), Waters et al. (2014), Ni and Groffman (2018), Templeton et al. (2019). Literature Cited Costa, K.H. and P.M. Groffman. 2013. Factors regulating net methane flux in urban forests and grasslands. Soil Science Society of America Journal 77:850 - 855. Duncan, J. M., L. E. Band, and P. M. Groffman. 2013. Towards closing the watershed nitrogen budget: Spatial and temporal scaling of denitrification. Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences 118:1-5; DOI: 10.1002/jgrg.20090 Groffman PM, Pouyat RV, Cadenasso ML, Zipperer WC, Szlavecz K, Yesilonis IC,. Band LE and Brush GS. 2006. Land use context and natural soil controls on plant community composition and soil nitrogen and carbon dynamics in urban and rural forests. Forest Ecology and Management 236:177-192. Groffman, P.M., C.O. Williams, R.V. Pouyat, L.E. Band and I.C. Yesilonis. 2009. Nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide flux in urban forests and grasslands. Journal of Environmental Quality 38:1848-1860. Groffman, P.M. and R.V. Pouyat. 2009. Methane uptake in urban forests and lawns. Environmental Science and Technology 43:5229-5235. DOI: 10.1021/es803720h. Ni, X. and P.M. Groffman. 2018. Declines in methane uptake in forest soils. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science of the United States of America 115:8587-8590. Savva, Y., K. Szlavecz, R. V. Pouyat, P. M. Groffman, and G. Heisler. 2010. Effects of land use and vegetation cover on soil temperature in an urban ecosystem. Soil Science Society of America Journal 74:469-480. Templeton, L., M.L. Cadenasso, J. Sullivan, M. Neel and P.M. Groffman. 2019. Changes in vegetation structure and composition of urban and rural forest patches in Baltimore from 1998 to 2015. Forest Ecology and Management. In press. Waters, E.R., J.L. Morse, N.D. Bettez and P.M. Groffman. 2014. Differential carbon and nitrogen controls of denitrification in riparian zones and streams along an urban to exurban gradient. Journal of Environmental Quality 43:955–963. 
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  10. The aim of this research was to examine the spatial and temporal variation in export control points of nitrogen on residential lawns (locations prone to mobilizing nitrogen during a rain event) and to examine if previously measured hydrobiogeochemical properties were predictive of N mobilization in lawns. This data set contains measurements of saturated infiltration rates, sorptivity, soil moisture, soil organic matter, bulk density, pH, soil nitrate, soil ammonium, N2O, N2 and CO2 fluxes from soil cores, nitrogen mineralization rates and fluxes of N in runoff and leachate from fertilized and unfertilized residential and institutional lawns. Study lawns were located at homes of people who agreed to volunteer their lawn for the study from a door knocking campaign. Four sampling houses were located in an exurban neighborhood in Baisman Run. Five sampling houses were located in a suburban neighborhood in Dead Run. Two sampling locations on institutional lawns were located at University of Maryland Baltimore County. At the exurban study houses and institutional lawns sites, we identified one hillslope to conduct sampling on. At the Dead Run houses we identified one hillslope on the front yard and one in the backyard as there were distinct locations that were not present in the exurban neighborhood. Locations within the yards for sampling were selected based on sampling conducted in October 2017. Locations were grouped into four categories based on have either high or low potential denitrification rates and high or low saturated infiltration rates (n=48). These locations were also distributed across yard types (exurban, suburban or institutional), fertilizer treatments, and hillslope location (top or bottom of hillslope). At each sampling location we ran a Cornell Sprinkle Infiltrometer to generate an experimental rainfall during which we collected runoff and leachate to quantity N flux. We also measure sorptivity and saturated infiltration rates. Volumetric water content was measured before and after infiltrometer runs with a Field Scout TDR 300 with 7.5 cm rods. In addition, at each sampling location we took two soil cores to 10 cm depth to measure gaseous N flux and soil N processes. Soil cores were stored on ice in the field, and then stored at 4°C in the lab until processed for variables mentioned above. Sampling was conducted across four seasons (April 2018, September 2018, November 2018 and March 2019) to capture seasonal variability including the timing of fertilizer applications. 
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