Coastal wetlands are among the most productive habitats on Earth and sequester globally significant amounts of atmospheric carbon (C). Extreme rates of soil C accumulation are widely assumed to reflect efficient C storage. Yet the fraction of wetland C lost via hydrologic export has not been directly quantified, since comprehensive budgets including direct estimates of lateral C loss are lacking. We present a complete net ecosystem C budget (NECB), demonstrating that lateral losses of C are a major component of the NECB for the largest stable brackish tidal marsh on the U.S. Pacific coast. Mean annual net ecosystem exchange of CO2 with the atmosphere (NEE = −185 g C m2 year−1, negative NEE denoting ecosystem uptake) was compared to long-term soil C burial (87–110 g C m2 year−1), suggesting only 47–59% of fixed atmospheric C accumulates in soils. Consistently, direct monitoring in 2017–2018 showed NEE of −255 g C m−2 year−1, and hydrologic export of 105 g C m−2 year−1 (59% of NEE remaining on site). Despite their high C sequestration capacity, lateral losses from coastal wetlands are typically a larger fraction of the NECB when compared to other terrestrial ecosystems. Loss of inorganic C (the least measured NECB term) was 91% of hydrologic export and may be the most important term limiting C sequestration. The high productivity of coastal wetlands thus serves a dual function of C burial and estuarine export, and the multiple fates of fixed C must be considered when evaluating wetland capacity for C sequestration.
|Title||Hydrologic export is a major component of coastal wetland carbon budgets|
|Authors||Matthew Bogard, Brian A. Bergamaschi, David Butman, Frank Anderson, Sara Knox, Lisamarie Windham-Myers|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Global Biogeochemical Cycles|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||California Water Science Center; WMA - Earth System Processes Division|