NCEAS Project 12503

Tidal wetland carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions model

  • John C. Callaway
  • Steve Crooks
  • Abe Doherty
  • Pat Megonigal

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group24th—27th March 2010Participant List  
Working Group15th—18th September 2010Participant List  
Working Group13th—16th September 2011Participant List  

Wetlands are important in global carbon cycling because they accumulate carbon in wood and soil organic matter, but they also emit methane, CH444, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) (Bridgham et al. 2006). Tidal wetlands are a potentially effective sink for carbon through accretionary processes both in response to sea-level rise or via restoration (Chmura et al. 2003, Duarte et al. 2005, Crooks et al. 2009). Tidal wetlands also have low methane emissions, making restoration of these wetlands a promising technique for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Research to date on tidal wetland carbon dynamics has been uncoordinated geographically and narrowly focused. Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions are complicated as belowground biomass accumulation and methane production increase from saline to freshwater tidal settings (Bridgham et al. 2006). There is a real need not only to synthesize work in different parts of the country and on different aspects of wetland carbon budgets, but also to incorporate understanding from multiple fields into an integrated model of wetland carbon dynamics, including production, decomposition, sequestration and greenhouse gas GHG emissions. An integrated model would provide the scientific framework to guide wetland climate change mitigation and adaptation policies on many scales. State, regional, national and international initiatives are rapidly being implemented to reduce GHG emissions through cap-and-trade systems. Carbon offset protocols are essential for any carbon trading program, which requires development of reliable, quantified performance standards. Sale of the carbon offsets from tidal wetland restoration projects could be a significant new funding mechanism for restoration, with billions of dollars of offsets expected to be sold in the next five years. The proposed working group will evaluate and test the potential to develop empirically-based and process-based models of carbon dynamics that identify variations in sequestration and emissions across gradients of salinity, inundation, tidal range, and suspended sediment supply. The working group will include experts in a wide range of fields, including the development of carbon offset protocols, to ensure that the products of the working group will directly integrate with GHG emissions reduction programs.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Aziz, Omar I.; Mantua, Nathan J.; Myers, Kate. 2011. Potential climate change impacts on thermal habitats of Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp in the North Pacific Ocean and adjacent seas. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Vol: 68(9). Pages 1660-1680. (Online version)
Journal Article Schile, Lisa M.; Callaway, John C.; Morris, James; Stralberg, Diana; Parker, V.; Kelly, Maggi. 2014. Modeling tidal marsh distribution with sea-level rise: Evaluating the role of vegetation, sediment, and upland habitat in marsh resiliency. PLoS ONE. Vol: 9. Pages e88760-null.