Enhanced decomposition offsets enhanced productivity and soil carbon accumulation in coastal wetlands responding to climate change

Biogeosciences
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Abstract

Coastal wetlands are responsible for about half of all carbon burial in oceans, and their persistence as a valuable ecosystem depends largely on the ability to accumulate organic material at rates equivalent to relative sea level rise. Recent work suggests that elevated CO2 and temperature warming will increase organic matter productivity and the ability of marshes to survive sea level rise. However, we find that organic decomposition rates increase by about 12% per degree of warming. Our measured temperature sensitivity is similar to studies from terrestrial systems, twice as high as the response of salt marsh productivity to temperature warming, and roughly equivalent to the productivity response associated with elevated CO2 in C3 marsh plants. Therefore, enhanced CO2 and warmer temperatures may actually make marshes less resilient to sea level rise, and tend to promote a release of soil carbon. Simple projections indicate that elevated temperatures will increase rates of sea level rise more than any acceleration in organic matter accumulation, suggesting the possibility of a positive feedback between climate, sea level rise, and carbon emissions in coastal environments.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Enhanced decomposition offsets enhanced productivity and soil carbon accumulation in coastal wetlands responding to climate change
Series title Biogeosciences
Volume 8
Issue 4
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Copernicus GmbH
Publisher location Goettingen, Germany
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 7 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Biogeosciences
First page 987
Last page 993
Country United States
State Virginia
Other Geospatial Phillips Creek