More than 70 biogenic hydrocarbon (BHC) compounds are known to be emitted by plants, but only a few are emitted in relatively large quantities. The magnitude of BHC emissions from individual trees is affected by ambient light and temperature, species-specific emissions rates, and leafmass. Like other volatile organic compounds (VOC), BHC emissions react with oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to form ozone and, thus, can contribute to urban air pollution. On average, BHC emissions are as reactive or more reactive than the VOC emissions from automobiles and can have higher ozone-forming potential. An accurate estimate of the overall magnitude of BHC contributions is important in formulating strategies to reduce peak ozone concentrations because an effective strategy will take into account the relative strengths of NOx and VOC emissions. The choice between NOx and VOC controls is crucial since an incorrect emphasis may result in non-attainment of ozone-reduction goals and control measures for either NOx or VOC involve enormous costs. As part of a program to develop a reliable BHC emission inventory for the Central Valley of California, a quantitative investigation of the leafmass of urban trees was conducted. Twenty-one trees in Bakersfield, Calif., were harvested and leaves removed, dried, and weighed. Leaf masses per tree ranged from 1.5 to 89.6 kg. Leaf mass densities (dry leaf mass per area of crown projection) ranged from 150 to 3200 g·m-2, as much as eight times greater than leaf mass densities for deciduous forests and more than twice those for coniferous forests. These data suggest the BHC contributions of urban trees may be underestimated if their foliar masses are calculated using forest-based leaf mass density data.
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