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

Ecological Engineering
By: , and 



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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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
Volume 127
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 579
Last page 588
Country United States
State North Carolina
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