Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Environmental Science and Policy

First Advisor

Anouk Verheyden


Urbanization, Freshwater Streams, Upstate New York, Carbon Dioxide Saturation


Inland freshwater constitutes a small percentage of the total water on Earth, yet it acts as a large carbon source to the atmosphere. Through respiration and land use changes, streams have become more saturated with carbon dioxide as humans continue to alter the biogeochemistry of freshwater systems. In this study, we investigated whether urban or rural environments differ in the CO2 concentration of streams in Upstate New York.

Water samples and CO2 measurements were collected from 53 unique stream sites and 12 sites were duplicated to understand variation throughout the summer. The Hans Groot’s Kill was sampled 50 times over nine months and for one 24-hour cycle every two hours. Water temperature, salinity, DO%, pH, barometric pressure, alkalinity, and ion concentrations were measured for each site. The data were analyzed on R-Studio with Hans Groot’s Kill data analyzed separately.

We found that rural streams have significantly lower CO2 concentrations (average = 1808 +- 1308, n = 35) compared to urban streams (average = 2828 +- 1102, n = 25). This is most likely because urban environments have high impervious surface coverage which increases the alkalinity. Also, there might be increased terrestrial and aquatic respiration in urban areas because of fertilizer usage and higher air temperatures. Lastly, throughout the year, the found that CO2 concentrations are highest in the Spring and Summer due to increased respiration and plant life. Overall, we found that urban streams, due to their surroundings and anthropogenic activity, exhibit higher CO2 concentrations than rural streams.