Restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Peatlands: A complete biogeochemical assessment of climatic impacts

Start/End: June, 2016 to April, 2018

Delta peatlands play a complex role in a changing climate. The Delta’s historically degraded and drained peatlands have been losing rich soil organic carbon to the atmosphere through oxidation and have also been shown to be strong sources of nitrous oxide emissions. While restoring wetlands can mitigate these emissions, flooded wetland systems are a significant source of methane, another potent greenhouse gas. Multiple agencies and stakeholders in California have shown an interest in using wetland restoration as a potential climate change mitigation strategy, along with the hydrological and habitat benefits that come along with restoration.

The objective of this work is to assess the benefit of restoring wetlands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for climate mitigation and carbon sequestration. By comparing the greenhouse gas exchange of drained, subsided peatlands with restored wetlands of various ages, this study will generate complete greenhouse gas budgets for restored sites. This information will allow managers to assess the potential benefit of widespread wetland restoration for climate mitigation in the Delta. This data will also be publicly accessible through the Ameriflux and Fluxnet networks of land-atmosphere measurement sites across the country and world. Project partners are interested in developing policy-ready GHG accounting methodologies that can incentivize low emission land use management in the Delta.