Reevaluating ecosystem functioning and carbon storage potential of a coastal wetland through integration of lateral and vertical carbon flux estimates

Start/End: February, 2018 to January, 2020

Coastal wetlands extract carbon from the atmosphere and store it in vegetation and sediments. This has led to growing interest in Bay-Delta wetland restoration to buffer against sea-level rise, and to play a role in carbon storage programs. However, long-term carbon storage efficiency is uncertain because wetlands also leak carbon to coastal waters and emit carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. This study will help reduce this uncertainty by building a more refined model of Bay-Delta wetland carbon cycling.

This study will combine two cutting-edge data sets to produce an integrated, net ecosystem carbon budget for Suisun Marsh, a representative ecosystem in the Delta. Specifically, the project will:

  1. Provide comprehensive information on ecosystem functioning and services in Delta wetlands.
  2. Provide more complete information on the potential of using wetland preservation in greenhouse gas reduction programs.
  3. Contribute a better understanding of the processes that shape wetland accretion and resilience to sea-level rise.

This research will provide vital information for understanding the ecosystem services, food webs, and carbon storage potential of the region’s wetlands, as well as provide new methodology that could be used by researchers around the world.

Research Mentor: David Butman, University of Washington
Community Mentor: Lisamarie Windham-Myers, United States Geological Survey