Soil redox potential (Eh), concentrations of oxygen (O2) and three greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, and N2O) were measured in the soil profile of a coastal forest at ridge, transition, and swamp across a hydrological gradient. The results delineated a distinct boundary in soil Eh and O2 concentration between the ridge and swamp with essentially no overlap between the two locations. Critical soil Eh to initiate significant CH4 production under this field conditions was about +300 mV, much higher than in the homogenous soils (about -150 mV). The strength of CH4 source to the atmosphere was strong for the swamp, minor for the transition, and negligible or even negative (consumption) for the ridge. Maximum N2O concentration in the soils was found at about Eh +250 mV, and the soil N2O emission was estimated to account for less than 4% for the ridge and transition, and almost negligible for the swamp in the cumulative global warming potential (GWP) of these three gases. The dynamic nature of this study site in response to water table fluctuations across a hydrological gradient makes it an ideal model of impact of future sea level rise to coastal ecosystems. Soil carbon (C) sequestration potential due to increasing soil water content upon sea level rise and subsidence in this coastal forest was likely limited and temporal, and at the expense of increasing soil CH4 production and emission. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.