What is it about?

Combining direct data and in- direct estimation, this study compiled studies involving 143 sites across the Southern and Northern hemispheres, and pro- vides an updated estimate of the global average carbon ac- cumulation rate (CAR). in salt marsh sediments. Based on region-specific CAR and estimates of salt marsh area in various geographic regions between 40◦ S to 69.7◦ N, total CAR in global salt marsh sediments is esti- mated at ∼10.2 TgC/yr. Latitude, tidal range and elevation appear to be important drivers for CAR of salt marsh sediments, with considerable variation among different biogeographic regions. The data indicate that while the capacity for carbon sequestration by salt marsh sediments ranked the first amongst coastal wetland and forested terrestrial ecosystems, their carbon budget was the smallest due to their limited and declining global areal extent. However, some uncertainties remain for our global estimate owing to limited data avail- ability.

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Why is it important?

Salt marshes, known as 'blue carbon' ecosystems, appear to be highly efficient in carbon burial, but studies on global carbon accumulation of salt marshes lag behind other coastal ecosystems. This paper aims to refine the global CAR inventory of salt marshes.

Perspectives

The findings of this study confirm salt marshes as signifi- cant coastal hotspots in sequestering carbon. Further research on CAR of salt marshes in South America and South Asia as well as inclusion of the full range of salt marsh halophytes is strongly recommended.

PhD Xiaoguang Ouyang
Chinese University of Hong Kong

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This page is a summary of: Updated estimates of carbon accumulation rates in coastal marsh sediments, Biogeosciences, September 2014, Copernicus GmbH, DOI: 10.5194/bg-11-5057-2014.
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