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Fossil Carbon Load in Urban Vegetation for Debrecen, Hungary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2019

Tamás Varga*
Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (ATOMKI), Debrecen, P.O Box 51, H-4001, Hungary
Petra Barnucz
Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (ATOMKI), Debrecen, P.O Box 51, H-4001, Hungary
István Major
Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (ATOMKI), Debrecen, P.O Box 51, H-4001, Hungary
Zsuzsa Lisztes-Szabó
Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (ATOMKI), Debrecen, P.O Box 51, H-4001, Hungary
A J Timothy Jull
Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (ATOMKI), Debrecen, P.O Box 51, H-4001, Hungary Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721USA University of Arizona AMS Laboratory, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Elemér László
Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (ATOMKI), Debrecen, P.O Box 51, H-4001, Hungary
János Pénzes
Department of Social Geography and Regional Development Planning, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
Mihály Molnár
Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (ATOMKI), Debrecen, P.O Box 51, H-4001, Hungary
*Corresponding author. Email:


Deciduous tree leaf and grass samples were collected in Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary. The aim of the study was to determine the rate of fossil fuel-derived carbon in urban vegetation. At the locations sampled, C3 and C4 plants close to roads were collected in September 2017. In total, 82 tree and grass leaf samples were gathered at 36 different sampling points all over the city of Debrecen. The radiocarbon (14C) results of the samples were compared to the local urban background atmospheric 14CO2 data to determine the percentage of the fossil fuel-derived carbon in the plants. Based on our results, the average fossil carbon content in the tree and grass leaf samples were 0.9 ± 1.2% and 2.5 ± 2.5%, respectively. The highest fossil carbon content was 9.6 ± 0.6% in a grass and 4.7 ± 0.7% in a tree leaf sample. It appears that the negative fossil carbon content results obtained at urban sampling areas reflect modern carbon emission, where radiocarbon content is higher than the corresponding local background, presumably due burning of recent wood containing bomb 14C in the suburbs as well as other possible sources such as litter decomposition or soil CO2 emission.

Conference Paper
© 2019 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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Selected Papers from the 23rd International Radiocarbon Conference, Trondheim, Norway, 17–22 June, 2018



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