Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Research article
11 Jun 2018
Research article |  | 11 Jun 2018

Simulating carbon sequestration using cellular automata and land use assessment for Karaj, Iran

Ali Khatibi, Sharareh Pourebrahim, and Mazlin Bin Mokhtar

Abstract. Carbon sequestration has been proposed as a means of slowing the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases. This study used observed and simulated land use/cover changes to investigate and predict carbon sequestration rates in the city of Karaj. Karaj, a metropolis of Iran, has undergone rapid population expansion and associated changes in recent years, and these changes make it suitable for use as a case study for rapidly expanding urban areas. In particular, high quality agricultural space, green space and gardens have rapidly transformed into industrial, residential and urban service areas. Five classes of land use/cover (residential, agricultural, rangeland, forest and barren areas) were considered in the study; vegetation and soil samples were taken from 20 randomly selected locations. The level of carbon sequestration was determined for the vegetation samples by calculating the amount of organic carbon present using the dry plant weight method, and for soil samples by using the method of Walkley and Black. For each area class, average values of carbon sequestration in vegetation and soil samples were calculated to give a carbon sequestration index. A cellular automata approach was used to simulate changes in the classes. Finally, the carbon sequestration indices were combined with simulation results to calculate changes in carbon sequestration for each class. It is predicted that, in the 15 year period from 2014 to 2029, much agricultural land will be transformed into residential land, resulting in a severe reduction in the level of carbon sequestration. Results from this study indicate that expansion of forest areas in urban counties would be an effective means of increasing the levels of carbon sequestration. Finally, future opportunities to include carbon sequestration into the simulation of land use/cover changes are outlined.

Short summary
The speed of land use changes is much higher than in the past, which led to many changes in the environment and ecological processes. These changes cause some changes in the climate, the amount of pollution and biodiversity. Monitoring and modeling historical situation of the region can be used to anticipate the negative effects of these changes in order to protect resources. Agriculture class will be faced with a huge reduction of carbon sequestration because of expansion of residential areas.