Wetlands play a critical role in the cycling of carbon, an issue of major importance for global climate change. Carbon accumulates in wetland soils because of high rates of plant productivity and low rates of decomposition in these ecosystems. However, some wetlands also produce methane -- a potent greenhouse gas that could offset carbon storage in the soil. The issue of carbon storage is of growing interest for policy makers as many governments are considering carbon offset investment as a method to reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases. Tidal wetlands store carbon belowground and have low methane emissions, making their restoration a promising technique for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We will synthesize the current understanding of carbon dynamics in tidal wetlands and develop a model to assess the potential for carbon storage in tidal wetlands and to evaluate factors affecting rates of carbon storage. The results of this model will play a significant role in evaluating the feasibility of tidal wetland restoration projects as a new category of carbon offset projects. The eligibility of wetland restoration projects for carbon offsets will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a significant new funding source for habitat restoration that will allow vulnerable coastal areas to adapt to impacts of future climate change.
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