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Accelerated sea-level rise is suppressing CO2 stimulation of tidal marsh productivity: A 33-year study

May 18, 2022

Accelerating relative sea-level rise (RSLR) is threatening coastal wetlands. However, rising CO2 concentrations may also stimulate carbon sequestration and vertical accretion, counterbalancing RSLR. A coastal wetland dominated by a C3 plant species was exposed to ambient and elevated levels of CO2 in situ from 1987 to 2019 during which time ambient CO2 concentration increased 18% and sea level rose 23 cm. Plant production did not increase in response to gradually rising ambient CO2 concentration during this period. Elevated CO2 increased shoot production relative to ambient CO2 for the first two decades, but from 2005 to 2019, elevated CO2 stimulation of production was diminished. The decline coincided with increases in relative sea level above a threshold that hindered root productivity. While elevated CO2 stimulation of elevation gain has the potential to moderate the negative impacts of RSLR on tidal wetland productivity, benefits for coastal wetland resilience will diminish in the long term as rates of RSLR accelerate.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Accelerated sea-level rise is suppressing CO2 stimulation of tidal marsh productivity: A 33-year study
DOI 10.1126/sciadv.abn0054
Authors Chunwu Zhu, J. Adam Langley, Lewis H. Ziska, Donald Cahoon, J. Patrick Megonigal
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science Advances
Index ID 70231775
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Ecological Science Center