Carbon storage potential in a recently created brackish marsh in eastern North Carolina, USA

Ecological Engineering



Carbon (C) sequestration through accumulated plant biomass and storage in soils can potentially make wetland ecosystems net C sinks. Here, we collected GHG flux, plant biomass, and litter decomposition data from three distinct vegetation zones (SpartinaalternifloraJuncus roemerianus and Spartina patens) on a 7-year-old created brackish marsh in North Carolina, USA, and integrate these data into an overall C mass balance budget. The marsh fixed an average of 1.85 g C m−2 day−1 through plant photosynthesis. About 41–46% of the fixed C remained in plants, while 18.4% of the C was decomposed and released back to the atmosphere as CO2 and CH4, and 8.6–13.2% of the decomposed C was stored as soil C. In all, this created marsh sequestered 28.7–44.7 Mg CO2 year−1 across the 14 ha marsh. Because the brackish marsh emitted only small amounts of CH4 and N2O, the CO2 equivalent emission of the marsh was −0.87 to −0.56 g CO2-eq m−2 day−1, indicating the marsh has a net effect in reducing GHGs to the atmosphere and contributes to cooling. However, resultant CO2 credit (through the increment of soil C) would be worth only $30.76–$47.90 USD per hectare annually, or $431–$671 per year for the project, which, coupled with other enhanced ecosystem services, could provide landowners with some additional economic incentive for future creation projects. Nevertheless, C mass balance determinations and radiative cooling metrics showed promise in demonstrating the potential of a young created brackish marsh to act as a net carbon sink.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Carbon storage potential in a recently created brackish marsh in eastern North Carolina, USA
Series title Ecological Engineering
DOI 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2018.09.007
Edition Online First
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Country United States
State North Carolina