Characterization of the empirical drivers of the carbon budget of a constructed inland salt marsh

Veronica Davies

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Co-Authors: T. Morin, and T. Volk

Wetlands promote carbon sequestration through waterlogged and anoxic conditions which reduce decomposition rates and increase peat formation. However, the persistent presence of water (H2O) results in chemically reduced conditions which promotes methane (CH4) production. While wetlands being the dominant natural source of CH4, the ecological drivers of wetland carbon fluxes are still uncertain and may vary at a single site temporally. This study quantifies the temporal changes in the ecological drivers of the carbon fluxes of a constructed inland salt marsh in Camillus, New York with alkaline, infertile soil (pH about 8.5 and total Nitrogen approximately 0.5%) using an empirical model. Continuous measurements of the carbon dioxide (CO2), CH4, and H2O fluxes were collected from June 27, 2019 to November 11, 2019 using the eddy covariance method, resulting in mean seasonal CH4 and CO2 emissions of 0.328 µmol·m-2·s-1 and 0.1954 µmol·m-2·s-1. Although the ecological drivers of CH4, ecosystem respiration (Re), and gross primary production (GPP) changed temporally, latent heat flux was identified as the strongest ecological driver for CH4 and GPP on a monthly and seasonal timescale, while the variation of Re was best explained by air temperature. The findings of this study highlight the dominant ecological drivers of the carbon budget and temporal variation in other key drivers across the observational period for the inland salt marsh.

Please post comments and questions for the author below.

4 thoughts on “Characterization of the empirical drivers of the carbon budget of a constructed inland salt marsh

  1. Hi there! I love wetland studies so thank you so much for communicating your findings! I was wondering whether you were going to continue this study to look at winter and spring months as well? Also, what might a natural resource manager do with this information? Thank you so much for your time, this looks like it took a lot of data processing!


    1. Hello Samantha, thank you for your questions!
      We would love to capture the carbon fluxes throughout the year. Annual measurements would give us a better understanding of the site’s carbon budget and the variability in the ecological drivers over the seasons. Unfortunately, the snowfall in Syracuse makes monitoring in the winter challenging due to limited site access. My time at SUNY ESF is coming to an end as a MSc student, but Dr. Morin plans to continue the study and extend the observational period to include the spring.
      One way a natural resource manager could use this information is by utilizing the identified relationships between the carbon fluxes and the ecological drivers to design a constructed wetland that minimizes greenhouse gas emissions.
      Can you think of other ways a natural resource manager could apply this information? Comment below!


      1. Oh I certainly can’t think of other ways, this is out of my wheelhouse to be sure! But I appreciate your thoughtful answer and your insight, thank you!


  2. No problem. Thanks, Samantha!

    Here is another application: A Natural Resource Manager could also use this information to predict future carbon behavior of the site based on meteorological changes in the upcoming years.

    Hope this helps 🙂


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