Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Approximately half of marine carbon sequestration takes place in coastal wetlands, including tidal marshes, where organic matter contributes to soil elevation and ecosystem persistence in the face of sea-level rise. The long-term viability of marshes and their carbon pools depends, in part, on how the balance between productivity and decay responds to climate change. Here, we report the sensitivity of labile soil organic-matter decay in tidal marshes to seasonal and latitudinal variations in temperature measured over a 3-year period. We find a moderate increase in decay rate at warmer temperatures (3-6% per degrees C, Q(10) = 1.3-1.5). Despite the profound differences between microbial metabolism in wetlands and uplands, our results indicate a strong conservation of temperature sensitivity. Moreover, simple comparisons with organic-matter production suggest that elevated atmospheric CO2 and warmer temperatures will accelerate carbon accumulation in marsh soils, and potentially enhance their ability to survive sea-level rise.
SEA-LEVEL RISE; SALT-MARSH; SOIL RESPIRATION; COASTAL WETLANDS; CLIMATE-CHANGE; CARBON ACCUMULATION; SPARTINA-PATENS; DECOMPOSITION; CO2; PLANT
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Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government. This research was funded by the US Geological Survey Climate and Land Use Research and Development program. This paper is contribution no. 3394 of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary.
Kirwan, M. L., Guntenspergen, G. R., and Langley, J. A.: Temperature sensitivity of organic-matter decay in tidal marshes, Biogeosciences, 11, 4801-4808, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-11-4801-2014, 2014.