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Blue carbon in a changing climate and a changing context

September 14, 2023

Blue carbon, a convenient term to encompass the climate mitigation value of coastal carbon dynamics, has received global policy attention and growing datasets to support management actions. Carbon stock assessments in mangroves, seagrass, and tidal marshes document significant carbon storage in soils. Models illustrate significant downward fluxes of carbon dioxide and limited methane emissions, making tidal wetland preservation and restoration notably potent for carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Natural variation in different carbon stocks and fluxes has led to prioritization efforts to characterize coastal lands across physical and biological gradients. However, a larger concern beyond upscaling carbon dynamics is the resilience of these stocks and fluxes with global changes. Data-informed models have greatly improved our assessments of the vulnerability of soil and biomass stocks, greenhouse gas (GHG) balance, and spatial extents. Accelerated sea-level rise is increasingly concerning, but its impacts vary by resilience context, as very few coastal lands are without direct human impact. As the landscape context has changed, blue carbon fluxes have also shifted in terms of importance and distribution. New incentives for tidal ecosystem management are expanding boundaries to include algal carbon and tidal transport of alkalinity, which bring additional co-benefits to coastal waters. Using examples from the conterminous USA on blue carbon stocks, radiative balance, and extent, this chapter explores timelines of physical and biogeochemical stressors and their application to past, current, and future climate mitigation functions of coastal ecosystems.

Publication Year 2023
Title Blue carbon in a changing climate and a changing context
Authors Lisamarie Windham-Myers
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70248801
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division